Friday, December 14, 2007


I always thought scones were difficult to make! Not so! You use baking soda and baking powder -- no yeast. You don't even use a mixer! The yumola recipe I used was a simple Fannie Farmer recipe from my classic Fannie Farmer cookbook (a must-have). I chose the buttermilk scone recipe because I still had some buttermilk leftover from Thanksgiving.
Here's the recipe:
"Sharon's Buttermilk Currant Scones"
3 C Flour
1/3 C plus 2 T Sugar
2 1/2 t Baking Powder
1/2 t Baking soda
3/4 t Salt
3/4 C Butter
1C Buttermilk
3/4 C Currants (I used raisins as a substitute)
1 t Grated Orange Rind (I used 1 T)
1 T Heavy Cream
1/4 t Cinnamon

Oven 400 degrees. Ungreased baking sheet. Combine flour, 1/3 cup of the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir w/ fork to mix and aerate. Cut butter into flour mixture, using two knives or pastry blender until mixture looks like crumbs. Add buttermilk, currants, and orange rind. Mix only until dry ingredients are moistened. Gather dough into ball and press so it holds together. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead twelve times. Divide dough in two and pat each half into a circle 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. In a small bowl combine cream, cinnamon, and remaining 2 T sugar, stirring to blend. Brush the dough w/ this glaze. Cut each circle into eight pie-shaped pieces. Place scones slightly apart on baking sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until tops are slightly browned. Serve hot.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

One small bag of trash . . .

Here is Ripley standing by our one small bag of trash. We have recently made a commitment to become more "green". After discovering that our trash carrier was not recycling, we have decided to head to the dump ourselves. There, we can recycle more things, plus, with our new commitment I've found recycling homes for our "stretch" plastic bags and batteries at Whole Foods. Also, at the Seekonk Department of Works on Rt. 44 (a nearby town) I was able to purchase a compost bin (that sells online for about $100) for a mere $25. So ... with all that, in one entire week we are only generating one small tall kitchen garbage bag worth of trash! Isn't that exciting?? Before our commitment we were generating one bag a day at least -- for a family of four. I have to say I have also made an effort to choose things when I'm shopping that don't have much packaging. I've been getting things from the bulk bins at Whole Foods using paper bags since I can rip those up afterwards and put them into my compost bin. I figure the less toxic plastic I use, the better for everyone -- even if it is recycled. For those of you unfamiliar with composting, you can put organic matter into this bin and after 6 months to a year (depending on your climate and the season you start) you will have beautiful FREE fertilizer for your garden and plants. What can I put in my Compost Bin? You can put all of your fruit and vegetable scraps in there, torn up paper, cardboard, toilet paper rolls, used Kleenex, used paper towel (w/o meat, dairy, chemicals) grass clippings, non-woody garden clippings (woody clippings just take longer to decompose and should go in another pile), hair (if you cut your kids hair, as I do), egg shells, coffee grounds and filters, your old jack-o-lanterns!, and hey, when you unload your fridge of things that you didn't use before they went bad ... at least you can make great dirt out of it ... put it in your compost! Next to the trash can under our sink is the kitchen compost container that Seekonk gave to me along with my $25 composter. Cool eh?

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Fabulous Flick!

Wow! After knitting Christmas gifts through the Patriots win against the Steelers, Victor and I settled into the evening by the fire to watch a movie ... and do a little more knitting! We watched The Lives of Others. It's a German film, with subtitles, set in the 1980's and "provides an exquisitely nuanced portrait of life under the watchful eye of the state police as a high-profile couple is bugged." What an INCREDIBLE FILM! It won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. It has a meandering sort of pace, and of course it is subtitled, but it's worth it! Enjoy!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Adorable Affordable Wrapping Paper!

Here is a great way to create your own wrapping paper. Purchase a large roll of white paper or craft paper. You can find these at Walmart or Target in the area you'd find shipping supplies. These have a lot more paper per roll, are a lot sturdier and are a LOT less expensive! Draft your toddlers / preschoolers to doodle away with washable paint. To maintain a Christmas Feel ... I do limit my kiddo to green and red. (I know, not very creatively free considering I was an art major!) Also, add glitter and a little Elmers to the paint for added sparkle. If you want you can spray it with a clear sealer, but I generally don't. Wrap your gifts and tie with red or green yarn ... also very affordable from Michael's or Walmart. Plus ... good, clean, fun, entertainment for the kids! These two masterpieces were created by Ripley and his friend Ella. Another great idea is to take all of those adorable coloring & painting creations they produce mountains of -- and quarter fold them into cards!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

My Boys and Our Tree

We have been purchasing our tree for the past several years at a little tree farm in Little Compton. It's totally quaint with hot chocolate, hot apple cider and cookies for 25 cents each. They replant as they sell them. To get first dibbs on a good tree, people can go to the farm after Halloween to decorate and claim their tree. Here you see our plump little fella decked out in the field ... with the boys, of course.

At Maciel's Tree Farm, they also have the classic tree swing. Here is Benjamin giving it his all ...

Our tree ... at home, and then decorated!!

Cold Weather and Winter Minestrone

What is better when the weather turns cold than a hearty soup and some warm bread? My sister-in-law Tanya requested this posting. It is a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis' book: Giada's Family Dinners (worth buying!) with a few changes and is super fabulous. I know that it took me some time to successfully make soup that tastes good. Here is a no-fail recipe. Easy, quick to make and delicious!

A word about chopping. Macrobiotic cooks have it right ... the way you cut the food matters. I don't know that it gives the food different energies ... but it certainly has a big impact on taste. Sorry, but it does. A big huge 1/4" thick round of carrot just doesn't taste as good as a 1/8" thick slice cut into quarters. Having several vegetables in one spoonful adds to the taste. That's nearly impossible with a big-ole hunk of carrot and a chunk of celery. Not the same. As the picture shows, cut the carrot / celery stalk the long way in half, and then the long way about 4 times like a carrot stick you'd put in your kids lunch box. Then chop in 1/8" thick slices. Yumola! Plus, your soup will cook faster! :)
OK enough editorializing ... here's the recipe!
2 T olive oil
1 t salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
1 onion, chopped small
3 carrots, peeled and chopped small ('nough said on that!)
4-5 celery stalks, chopped small
3 oz thinly sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped (I keep a big chunk that I bought on "The Hill" (the Italian District, in Providence) in the freezer. Or get some sliced from the deli and keep it in the freezer.)
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. Swiss chard, stems trimmed, leaves chopped small enough to fit on the spoon. (who wants a big floppy drippy leafy thing dangling off your spoonful of soup?) You can omit this if you must. I have a child who will not eat leafy "salad" soups.
1 potato peeled and cubed.
1 large can diced tomatoes in juice
1 - 2 T fresh rosemary - chopped, maybe 1 T if dried rosemary
2 cans cannellini beans (or white navy beans if you don't appreciate large beans), drained and rinsed
1 32 oz box of low sodium chicken broth
Chunk of Parmesan cheese rind (Giada notes that this adds richness ... "salty, buttery goodness" to the soup)
2 T fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Heat oil in large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, pancetta, garlic, salt and pepper. Saute until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add Swiss chard and potato; saute for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice and rosemary. Simmer about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a food processor, blender, or hand-held blender, combine one can of the beans with 1 cup of the broth and blend until almost smooth. Add the pureed bean mixture, remaining broth, and Parmesan rind to the vegetable mixture. Simmer until potato pieces are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Stir in other can of drained, rinsed beans and the chopped parsley. Simmer until beans are heated through and soup is thick, about 2 minutes. Taste and add any needed salt or pepper. ** I find this soup is even better if you have the time to let it simmer for a longer period of time. Ideally, 30-45 minutes.**
Eat with warm bread!