Super Salad!

The Dearliest and I have been eating a lot of salad lately. Between my need to up my greenery and the hotter weather, salad fits oh so many bills right now. I like food that looks pretty. I like to look at it, and I think it makes it more fun to eat, too!

A typical salad: Lettuce, cabbage, whatever veggies are in the house (usually carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, and/ or avocados), apples, craisins, toasted pecans or almonds, and either bleu cheese crumbles with balsamic vinaigrette dressing or bleu cheese dressing. If we’re in the mood for more protein we add hard boiled eggs, crumbled turkey bacon, and/ or leftover chopped chicken.

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It doesn’t get old.

Broccoli Beef (and my history of cooking meat)

I grew up in a mostly vegetarian home (we ate chicken and sometimes fish, but no pork or red meat), so when I married the burger, bacon, and steak loving Dearliest, I had to make some gradual adjustments. For the first year I couldn’t cook it. I couldn’t even really look at it, so the Dearliest was in charge of buying and preparing his own red meat. This worked out well, but I felt like a challenge was getting the better of me in a way. I love to cook, and especially that first year I strove to expand my abilities. By not even looking at cow I feel I missed out on some wonderful things.

Enter year two. I could look at it, and I could even prepare it in a few small ways, but I still couldn’t eat it beyond a bite here or there. If I made a beef dish for the Dearliest, I usually made the same dish with chicken or ground turkey for myself. My big triumph this year was being able to easily handle raw chicken breasts. Baby steps, y’all!

Year three saw some major jumps. I could work with a whole chicken, roast it, and strip the meat with ease. I discovered I loved meatloaf, and when Ken made a chuck roast, I could enjoy quite a bit of it.

By year four I’d developed a little list of meat dishes I could prepare well, and while I ate them, I made them mostly for the Dearliest.

That is until last year, when I was expecting TR, and I craved beef like nobody’s business. I went on a hunt for beef recipes, and then I found this recipe and the hunt ended. I tweaked it a bit the first few times I made it, but then I landed on what worked well for me and proceeded to have the dish 2-3 times a week for months. It was wonderful, and now I’m going to share my version with you.

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Broccoli Beef

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 bullion cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 pound boneless steak, cut into thin strips
  • 4 cups broccoli florets, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons oil for cooking

1) Combine all ingredients except beef, broccoli, and oil in a small bowl. Stir to dissolve corn starch.
2) Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook until browned (around 3 minutes). Don’t overcook it here.
3) Remove beef from skillet. Add broccoli and sauce to skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, then simmer and stir occasionally until the sauce thickens and the broccoli starts to become tender.
4) Stir in beef and continue cooking another minute or two.

This is really good served over noodles or rice.

Notes:
– 2 cups of chicken or beef broth can be substituted for the 2 cups of water + 2 bullion cubes
– I have made this using chicken before. It’s good.
– Any sort of beef steak can work in this, but I’m particularly fond of round eye steak.
– If you want a thinner sauce, add more water at the simmer stage to get your desired consistency. If you want a thicker sauce, dissolve 1 Tablespoon corn starch in 1 tablespoon cold water, then add at the simmer stage. Repeat as necessary.
– If you want to save a little cooking time, partially steam the broccoli in the beginning. 3-4 minutes should be enough. If you do this, you don’t need to remove the beef from the skillet later.

I remembered!

I told you there was something else!

About a year ago I heard about this thing called oil pulling, where first thing in the morning, before eating or drinking anything, you take about a tablespoon of oil and swish it around in your mouth for 15-20 minutes. There’s supposedly a list of benefits to this, but I was extremely skeptical and dismissed it and then forgot about it.

Last week I read an article on it that had some scientific study behind it and thought, “Hmm, maybe I’ll give this a try after all.”

I haven’t quite made up my mind completely, but here’s what I can tell you. After doing it 4 times in the last week (I’ve been using coconut oil), my teeth are whiter, and my gums are a happy pink and aren’t bleeding anymore when I brush. This is significant, since I’ve ALWAYS had trouble with bleeding gums, even going back to when I was a kid. For the first time in my life, NO BLEEDING.

I’ll probably revisit this subject after another few weeks and let you know how it goes.

Adventure Notes

The other morning we woke up to a cougar taking down a deer 20 feet from our bedroom window. Not the most pleasant of alarm clocks, not to mention the disconcerting factor of a cougar that close to the house.

Our neighbor (the one who bought the family’s property with the mudslide on it), whom I shall call Tor because of reasons, brought in a trackhoe and for the last couple days has been taking out some of the old foundation. LK has enjoyed watching it and hearing it. It looks like they’re going to build there, so it’ll be interesting to see what they do with it!

My dad came to visit for a few days, which was a joy and a pleasure! He brought treasures with him, but the best treasure was being able to see him and spend so much time with him before he headed back to CA. Pictures of treasures later.

I recently “met” a gal online through a mutual friend. She does really cool embroidery art pieces, so when I learned that she wanted some crocheted things for her soon-to-be-born daughter but didn’t know how to do it herself, I jumped at the opportunity for a trade! I’m quite stoked, to say the least.

On another crochet note, I’ve started assembling the star blanket. I’m not sure how far my brown yarn will take me, even with 3 skeins. I was hoping for a bigger blanket than baby size, but I might not get much more than that. 😦 The nature of the blanket is such that I’m joining with a needle, so I’m hoping that doing it more or less as I go will reduce my frustration with the method.

I feel there was something else I meant to share, but I’m drawing a blank right now.

Life Recently

With pictures! Because pictures are fun. Unfortunately, our internet has been acting up like woah for the last week, so what should’ve taken 2 or 3 minutes to upload took closer to half an hour. Thusly, I might not have as much time for captioning this morning, but we’ll see how far I get.

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Here we have TR, almost officially 3 months old, supervising the siblings.

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Here we have the siblings. It’s amazing how much fun you can have with a plastic spoon, a 4″ pot, and a wheel barrow.

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We finally got our first real spring rainstorm, complete with awesome rainbow. It was a full rainbow over the mountain, but I couldn’t get all of it in one photo, alas.

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I think this is called “Sister Love,” although I’m not sure Squeaky would agree.

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My ladybanks rose bloomed this year! I was so happy to see it survived the winter and the deer.

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When we first moved here, I wasn’t crazy about this iris, but it has become one of my favorites. I want to divide it out this year, because there’s only the one patch and it’s on the edge of a bank that looses a little more soil every year.

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There will be a recipe post for this soon.

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I decided to try and grow Squeaky’s bangs out, but none of the hair clips I have stay in her hair. So I bought some alligator clips (I think that’s what they’re called?), crocheted a bow for it, and walla! I have plans to do a couple other colors, but that should make cute work of her bangs. Might do the same for Pokado’s bangs, once LK’s trim job grows out a bit more.

Pineapple Dream Cake

Because it’s too good to not share. My first exposure to this was through my husband’s family, and it has become one of my non-chocolate favorites. In fact, it’s right up there with Tiramisu and cheesecake.

…now I want Tiramisu. I haven’t made one of those in over a year.

*cough* Anyway. I’m getting distracted again.

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Pineapple Dream Cake

  • 1 (9×13) vanilla cake
  • 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 cups vanilla pudding
  • 1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple
  • 1 Tablespoon molasses
  • 1 Tablespoon honey

1) If you are making your pudding from scratch, do that first. Continue once the pudding is cool. This can be done a day ahead.
2) Make the vanilla cake.
3) Combine pineapple, molasses, and honey in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until bubbly.
4) Poke holes in the vanilla cake and pour pineapple mixture over the top (best if you can do this while cake is still warm); cool completely.
3) Whip cream and vanilla until stiff peaks form.
4) Layer pudding on top of cooled cake, followed by whipped cream. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate a minimum of 3 hours. For best results, refrigerate overnight.

Notes:

Vanilla Cake–This is the recipe I generally use (minus the frosting and coconut). I don’t always have things a room temperature (in fact I usually don’t). I bake it in a 9×13″ pan, which can increase cooking time a little. I also use honey instead of sugar which results in some other adjustments of the recipe. I don’t need to get into all that entails unless someone is particularly interested, though.

Vanilla Pudding

  • 1/3 cup honey
  • ¼ cup corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 3/4 cups milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla

1) In a saucepan over med-high heat, mix together honey, corn starch, salt, and milk. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently..
2) Remove from heat, temper eggs, then add eggs to pot and return to med-high boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
3) Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, cover with a lid and allow pudding to cool completely in the fridge or a cold water bath.