Friday, December 31, 2010

Did I Meet My 2010 Goals?

December 31st. It is such a final date. The year ends and on the waking of the morn, not only a new day but a new YEAR has begun. A person makes themselves promises: I'll eat healthier, I'll exercise more, I'll be more patient with my family, I'll stop drinking diet coke, I'll. . . . .

Last year I decided that I would not make myself promises, but that I would set goals. Here is a recap of those goals and the results:

1. Plant Asparagus.

Yes! I planted 10 Asparagus crowns and they grew wonderfully! Now, I can't wait until I can actually harvest a few spears this coming spring. :) I believe I planted Jersey Jem. I also got crazy and planted strawberries in with the flowers, it was an itch I had to scratch!

2. Find a recipe for a perfect homemade ranch dressing.

I really hit this one hard in the beginning of the year. A few times I thought I had it but as the dressing sat for a few hours (or days) in the fridge, the taste went all wrong. A few weeks ago, I got a slew of ranch dressing recipes from a friend of mine. I haven't made any of them yet but it is on my to do list. The quest continues....

3. A new way to stake tomatoes.

Yes, I did this one. I used a Florida Weave method and I plan on using it again this year. It works best for indeterminate varieties. I would not bother with it small determinate varieties.

4. Rent a plot in a community garden.

Did this one as well. It was, may I say, an abject failure. However, I did get lots and lots of onions :) In fact, I'm still using them and any one who knows me knows I use a lot of onions. lol The road being closed and a long detour to get out there didn't help matters. And the approximately 60 billion weed seeds and 20 billion insect eggs and 1 million various plant diseases didn't help matters.

So what I shoot for (garden and kitchenwise) in 2011? Hmmmm.......

1. Find a much better Roma type tomato. I think I going to try a variety called Juliet. For all I was sick of them, I really am glad I planted a Yellow Pear tomato - the thing thrived when my other tomatoes were looking pretty pathetic at the end of the year.

2. Learn to cook with my NEW STAINLESS STEEL cookware! Okay, so I have been cooking with it and it works great, I'm just a little annoyed with the whole egg sticking thing. Mike bought be a great set - Calphalon Triply Stainless Steel. Great deals where to be had!

Have a wonderful and happy New Year! As a friend on Facebook said - one more year closer to Jesus coming back! God bless!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mushroom Orzo - the one I catered

It is a brisk (okay, more than brisk) day. A perfect day for staying inside and cooking up a storm. Right now, my house smells divine because I'm making chicken broth on the stove top. It's been going for an hour and a half but I think I'll let it do it's low simmer for at least another couple of hours. I'm also feeling the urge to make some cookies so that'll be part of the afternoon's agenda.

I had my first foray into catering a few weeks ago. It was a lot of work but it was confirmed to me that it is actually something I enjoy. With planning and lots of lists I actually slept very well the night before and if you know me, you can tell how at ease I must have been.

While not everything was as perfect as I had wanted it to be, I did receive positive feedback. The most commented on item was the Mushroom Orzo. The original recipe came from and can be found here. However, I knew I wouldn't be able to make it for 40 people on top of the stove top so I adjusted the recipe for the oven. If you are making it simply for your family, by all means - use the stove top - it will be faster and probably less mess. If you want a creamier orzo, let this overcook just slightly and stir. If it seems too dry, add more chicken broth - it's all good in the end! Oh, and you don't have to, but I would recommend baby bella mushrooms instead of the white buttons. The flavor intensity it just all that more (however, I did not use them for the event). This recipe makes a lot - at least feeding 8-10 people, you may want to cut it in half for your family.

Mushroom Orzo


3 tablespoons olive oil

2 onions, chopped

1 pound fresh mushrooms, chopped

3 cups chicken broth

2 cups uncooked orzo pasta

salt and pepper to taste

2 teaspoons dried thyme

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) Heat oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute onion, thyme, and mushrooms until tender and golden brown, season with salt and pepper to taste. Add orzo and cook slightly.

Place orzo mixture in a 9x 13 pan. Add 3 cups chicken broth. Cover with aluminum foil tightly and cook for 30 minutes. Take off foil, stir, cook longer if desired consistency is not reached. If desired, sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley.