Help us pick our new puppy!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Delayed Gratification

I've always been sort of an instant gratification kind of girl.  When I decide I want something, or want to do and experience something, I am horrible about actually waiting for what it is I'm wanting to come to fruition.  It is almost a painful process for me and the thought of whatever it is I'm after starts to consume me.  Needless to say, right now, I'm talking about my garden.

Today the ETM (Evil Training Monster) and his wife were still away on vacation which means I was able to avoid my 5:00 a.m. wake up call and sleep in, a very rare occurrence in our home.  I think we finally got up around 7:30 a.m.  Michael and I sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful morning before deciding to walk Hunter down to Cosmos Coffee Shop for a little pre-garden building breakfast.

In addition to swimming, his green bone, getting hand outs from everyone's lunch at work, morning scratches and playing with Poppy, going on walks in the neighborhood is one of Hunter's favorite things in the whole world.

Cosmo's Coffee Shop is a neighborhood eatery with quick, healthy sandwiches, salads, bagels and of course, coffee.

We do love Cosmo's but I have not had quite the heart to add one of these to my car.

Michael's breakfast sandwich was just enough for him....with a few bites left over for Hunter. 

He never seems to beg the same way from me.  Maybe fruit and yogurt doesn't do it for him but I like the Cosmo's combo.  They make their own granola and keep it pretty light.  It is mostly fruit with just a bit of the granola mixed in for crunch and about 1/2 cup of low fat yogurt.

After breakfast and the morning walk, it was time to get to work building my planter box for the garden.

I have the best husband in the world.  He spent a few hours helping me get the area prepped and the planter built and even let me have a Tool Time moment cutting a board myself.

I actually look like I know what I'm doing.  An hour later and poof!  Planter box is installed.

Unfortunately though with the holiday all the bulk soil places are closed so I'm stuck waiting until Michael can go by to get what we need this week.  So, while I researched what type of soil mixture we need to buy, I made a big salad for lunch with shark and corn from yesterday's barbecue.

And since I really wanted something sweet I also munched on a 50 calorie vegan almond cookie I picked up while we were at Cosmos.

I spent some time this afternoon looking through recipes on Cooking Light's website.  I know, I may sound repetitive since it is my "go-to" solution when I'm looking for something to make for dinner.  I find that the recipes are easy, taste great and are, of course, healthy.  Each recipe gives nutrition content and when you are food journaling and trying to track your calories, that's key.

Tonight I made Stuffed Summer Squash (see my recipe page for a link to the recipe).  I made a few adjustments to the recipe that is posted and added one link of spicy Italian pork sausage (removed from the casing)  to the ground turkey, and corn left over from the barbecue.  I also doubled the recipe so that we could take it for lunch and have plenty of leftovers.

The top of the squash gets nice and crisp and the sweetness of the corn is a good offset to the spicy sausage.  We had dessert tonight too with yesterday's remaining grilled fruit, a tiny bit of Fage sweetened by Agave and ginger snaps.  This is Michael's portion.  I had about half of that, but could have easily gone back for more!

I'm on a quest to make the perfect baked oatmeal and so far have not hit the right combo.  Tonight I made pumpkin oatmeal with raisins and walnuts.  I'm keeping fingers crossed that it turns out the way I hope.

Big day tomorrow attending the California Restaurant Association Gold Medallion Awards Ceremony, meetings with Sur La Table, and closing advance sales for The Gourmet Experience.

It is also final day for this round of Game On so I'll be at the gym first thing in the morning.  Time for tea, bed and my audio book!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dog Days of Summer (Almost)

I think from the moment we woke this morning, Hunter knew something was up.  There was just too much activity and whenever the signs point to both Michael and I leaving, Hunter springs into action, knowing that basically there are only two options in front of him:
  1. We are about to leave and he is not going.  That's always stressful for a dog who is used to being with his people, or
  2. We are about to leave and he gets to go and that prospect always sends him into a tizzy
As Michael hurried to get ready for a day of golf with the guys I set out to prepare for an hour of kick(butt) boxing with Hunter following from room to room, making sure his presence was known just in case option #2 was even a remote possibility.

Finally, he was too much to ignore and I had to take time out to practice our new "kiss" trick.  Whenever I reach for the cabinet with the treats, Hunter knows its time to perform some type of task and sits at attention.

I've been working with him for months to touch noses, like an Eskimo Kiss.  Now that he knows what I want him to do, his excitement over getting a treat has a tendency to get the best of him.  Instead of a nose bump I seem to be getting gigantic slobbery kisses instead.  I've learned to brace for it and find it best if I don't see it coming.  Today he did it right though, on the third try.

After the lesson, I downed a quick breakfast of Fage, blueberries, blackberries, Flax Oil, a tiny bit of Agave and Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Cereal.

I'm not sure why this new round of kickboxing is such a killer.  It may be the 6-minutes of Turbo or the wicked ab and core routine at the end.  Either way, I know I'm going to feel it tomorrow.  On my way home, I stopped and picked up peaches and plums to grill and take over to Ken and Jolee's barbecue.

The Grilled Stone Fruit with Balsamic Glaze recipe from Cooking Light was really easy to make and grilling the fruit brought out a great flavor.  Grill for one minute on each side with a little bit of EVOO.  In the pan, I brought 1 cup of balsamic and two tbsp of brown sugar to a boil and reduced to make a glaze.

The dish called for manchego cheese and since I did not have any I thought I'd substitute with a bit of parma.  Except, I forgot that at home and failed to ask Jolee for any.  Instead I served it with a bit of mint.  It was light, tasty and easy and will be great heated up for dessert the rest of the week.

It did not take long for Hunter to make his way into the pool once we were up to Ken and Jolee's.  We kept bracing for Hunter to splash Bella.

Our friends Kelly, Stephanie, Kevin and Steve helped to celebrate the three-day weekend.  You may remember Kevin and Steve from our lunch the other day at Harry's. 

And Ken, mastered the grill.

We had beautiful shark fillet that K&J picked up from Chesapeake Fish Company.  Ken adding a pinch of this.

And John's Chimichurri sauce (I'm still loving the garlic) on El Indio Chips

The fresh, grilled corn I made yesterday with lime juice, cayenne, salt and pepper

Beet Salad

The taco line with all the fixings:  cabbage, cilantro, white sauce, shark, chicken, yum.

Jolee and the magic pinchers

Mark on the tortilla station

And the dogs.  In total I think there was a dog for each person.  Well, almost.  And they each could not help but ask politely for a little scrap here and there.

Ah, dessert.  Sally's pound cake was heaven.

But Jolee's Dulce de Leche cheesecake bars were the show stopper.  It took every ounce of will power to only have one. 

Indulgent without going overboard, our first barbecue of the season was filled with fresh protein and produce, friends and dogs.  Lots and lots of dogs.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

How Does Your Garden Grow

Well, it doesn't yet but we did make a bit of progress today.  Michael and I went to Home Depot early this morning and got the wood to build my planter box. 

We left and already, I felt triumphant, like something big was going to happen.  Excited about an afternoon shopping for vegetables, we met up with Ken and Jolee for a power breakfast at The Landing - fuel for the hard day ahead.  I had an egg white veggie omelet with avocado, rye toast and fruit.

Jolee and I left the guys and headed to the nursery.  I was really indecisive and asked the owner a million questions.   I did however learn the difference between determinate and indeterminate vegetables.  According to iVillage Garden Web:
Determinate varieties of tomatoes, also called "bush" tomatoes, are varieties that are bred to grow to a compact height (approx. 4 feet).
They stop growing when fruit sets on the terminal or top bud, ripen all their crop at or near the same time (usually over a 2 week period), and then die.
They may require a limited amount of caging and/or staking for support, should NOT be pruned or "suckered" as it severely reduces the crop, and will perform relatively well in a container (minimum size of 5-6 gallon). Examples are: Rutgers, Roma, Celebrity (called a semi-determinate by some), and Marglobe.
Indeterminate varieties of tomatoes are also called "vining" tomatoes. They will grow and produce fruit until killed by frost and can reach heights of up to 10 feet although 6 feet is considered the norm. They will bloom, set new fruit and ripen fruit all at the same time throughout the growing season. 

They require substantial caging and/or staking for support and pruning and the removal of suckers is practiced by many but is not mandatory. The need for it and advisability of doing it varies from region to region. Experiment and see which works best for you. Because of the need for substantial support and the size of the plants, indeterminate varieties are not usually recommended as container plants. Examples are: Big Boy, Beef Master, most "cherry" types, Early Girl, most heirloom varieties, etc.
I picked up brother and sister bookends of Big Boy and Early Girls, jalapeno peppers, tomatillo, Japanese eggplant, zucchini squash, strawberries, red onion, fennel, cucumber and a bunch of herbs.

I'm hoping everything I got will fit??

It is a very small area but I think we can make it work.  Getting home, we realized, as is the case with all home projects, we got the wrong wood and had to go back to Home Depot.  Unfortunately, this puts us back a couple of days (very important social day tomorrow!). 

As Michael worked on the deck, I got started on grilling corn for the dish I'm making for our barbecue up at Ken and Jolee's tomorrow.

Note to self.  Soak the corn longer so that it doesn't keep catching on fire.  It got really, really roasted.

I grilled chicken for dinner, scraped an ear of corn and added lime and cayenne pepper, and sliced a few wedges of a sweet potato.  It was very tasty although the picture does not do it justice. 

The broccoli however got the best of me.  In case you needed the tip, steamed broccoli stays hot longer than you think.

I burnt my lip and my tongue popping a spear of it in my mouth.  I'd show a closeup but, its just sort of gross.

I'm not sure if I should admit what I did next but since I've decided to share and open my life up like this leaving out the following detail seems like I'm cheating.

So I burn my tongue and my lip is scorched and I can feel the blister welting up.  I've thrown the broccoli across the kitchen (that showed it), and start grasping for something cool to take away the pain.  Now, you know how sometimes you hear things and you can't quite remember if what you heard was the truth or the urban myth.  If you are ever faced with a moment like this and wonder to yourself if butter will make your burn feel better.  The answer is no.  It only took a few seconds with the bar of butter pressed against my lip for me to realize that it hurt like hell.  I may as well have exfoliated my face with a salt rub or used a kerosene lip balm.  I mean it hurt.

Tea always sounds like a good idea but tonight it may not be quite as enjoyable.

My Good Earth Tea quote for tonight is:
Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself - Chinese Proverb