Friday, September 30, 2011

Mental Chew reviews "The Chew"

We don't have traditional TV in our house. I watch shows online, that's about it. During a visit at my dad's I thought I would check out ABC's "groundbreaking" and "innovative" new show. Their words, not mine. Funny thing is called "The Chew". Viewers are Googling, Binging and Yahooing "The Chew Recipes" and guess where they are landing? Yes, at my site. Nice by-product, eh? So, I HAD to see an episode.

There are five co-hosts on the show:
Clinton Kelly - from TLC's "What Not to Wear"
Carla Hall - Top Chef participant (love her)
Michael Symon - Food Network and Iron Chef
Daphne Oz - Healthy living consultant. Dr. Oz's daughter
Mario Batali - Chef extraordinaire, restauranteur, author and well known TV personality

The concept for the show is brilliant; however, after watching an episode, I felt like I needed to take a deep breath. When all 5 members were on, they spoke over one another...constantly. I found that my shoulders were creeping up to my ears as they cut each other off. In addition to the criss cross conversation, each person, with the exception of Batali, seemed to be saying all they could within each breath. Perhaps if "The Chew" cut a segment, like "Benefits of Kissing", each person could take a breath between their sentences and it would feel more conversational and less like a blast of information.

Simon and Kelly were easy to watch and I feel like I could warm up to them. Batali is Batali. There is a reason he is so well know; he is extremely good at what he does. His partners should watch him. Hall was fun to watch. Her input was full of great ideas and felt down-to-earth, whimsical and heartfelt.

Oz is the biggest glitch in the show. I am sure she is lovely in person, but her TV personality made me cringe a bit. She seemed rattled through her recipe segment and it felt like she was giving bedroom eyes to the gentleman she was interviewing in her second segment. Sorry, but it is true. I was thinking it, my TV watching partner said it.

Let's talk food. The recipes were actually great. They were quick, easy and healthy. Loved each and every one and I would try them all at home. The Chew posts the hosts' recipes every day online at While I might not have time to check out the show, I will follow their recipes.

Again, this is a great concept and I could see myself getting hooked if: the conversation was more conversational, there was a mom on the panel, and they cut down the number of segments so they can slow down the pace of the show.

This show is just starting and I think it could stick with a few changes that would make the dialogue as strong as their recipes.

{this moment}:walking

A Friday ritual from Amanda at Soule Mama.
A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your “moment” in the comments for all to find and see.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

CSA week of Sept. 27

Today was one of those days that feels like it is going fast forward and slow motion simultaneously. There was so much to do, but I was able to savor some wonderful moments as well.

This beautiful box of tomatoes:

These gorgeous sunflowers that a friend held up in the sunlight for a better glimpse:

Amazing vistas and signs of fall:

All in a 10 minute visit to a little farm on a rushed day with two sleepy little 'uns in the van waiting somewhat patiently.

This week's share:

  • Bagged mizuna/arugula
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Collard greens
  • Fennel
  • Garlic
  • Head lettuce
  • Herbs: Basil, parsley, korean mint, summer savory
  • Kale
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Scallions
  • Scarlet runner beans
  • String beans: yellow and purple
  • Summer squash
  • Tomatoes: stupice and cherry (they made me gasp in delight...really)

Last week brought lots of grilled veggies, some wonderful salads, a large pot a minestrone-esque soup and some blanched and frozen items to keep for the winter.

This week we will be heading out to visit family and bringing some of the share to, um, share!

Monday, September 19, 2011

ABCs of Me

A little fun from Voiceboks .

A-Amateur photographer, learning each and every day
B-Boring, not in my vocabulary. There is always fun to be had.
C-Children, blow my mind, capture my heart and make me giggle
D-Dance, every morning with my kids
E-Experience every day with a a new question
F-Fall, my favorite season. Oh the colors.
G-Ghost stories, Can't wait to tell them to my kids
H-Hiking, when I am at peace, should do it more often
I-Island living, I couldn't imagine any other way
J-jumping into projects, I have a million ideas...I just need the time
K-Kangaroos live in Australia, which is where Hunter Valley is, which is someplace I really want to go
L-Low tide, my favorite smell
M-Melibe, my favorite nudibranch
N-Nuthatch, favorite feeder bird
O-Over commit, I am working on saying "no"
P-Post-it notes, my OCD fit
Q-Quiet, unfamiliar sound these days
R-Road trips, just ask, I will go
S-Spicy Tuna Rolls, my favorite
T-Tomatoes, something I wish I could grow and can until my pantry was full
U-Underwater, the place I miss most
V-Vesuvius, my laundry pile
W-Wind belongs in sails and my hair
X-Xylophone, keep meaning to buy one
Y-Young minds and Young hearts are kept with new adventures
Z-Zoea, favorite word to play in Scrabble

Color Wheel

late bloomer

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fresh lettuce

Has anyone grown lettuce over the winter? Any advice? Nothing beats fresh from the garden and this is one of the crops I hope to keep going this winter under our cloches.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Canvas on Demand

Remember that photo I submitted at the County Fair? (*whispering* won 1st prize and People's Choice) Woah...that was some serious bragging right there. I don't do that much, but this was all a fortunate stroke of luck.

I had the canvas made at Canvas on Demand and now I am an advertising affiliate with them. Pretty darn pleased as punch.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

CSA for the week of September 13


Last week's flowers
I have decided that I will start each of these with a link to Heritage Farm. I have had quite a few people ask me about how they can get involved and this is the easiest way, I think. Just go to the place you read about it and then CLICK on their link. Tah dah!

So, WOWZA! This is quite the assortment. I have to admit (while hiding my face behind the collar of my shirt) that I took my camera out there with no memory card in it. The other one had no battery. It has been that kind of week.

Here is this week's share:

Herbs: basil, parsley, summer savory, korean mint
Salad mix
Scarlet runner beans
Summer squash
Tomatoes: Heirlooms, stupice and cherry

I have so many things I want to do with these veggies! My inlaws are visiting, so I will be introducing them to the Crash Potatoes along with some grilled summer squash and island steaks. Tonight we are going to have Chicken Tikka Masala and I think I am going to serve it over sauteed Chard (the last bit from last week) over rice and I will include some broccoli in the recipe itself. The cucumbers, cauliflower, lettuce and tomatoes have been making the freshest, tastiest salads and we will have a root veggie roast with beets, turnips and parsnips this weekend. In addition to all of this, we have a pumpkin that is ready to go, so I have promised my little man I would make him pumpkin pie AND we have about a dozen patty pan that are ready to go. Food week at the Curtises!!

Tip of the week: Grate your cauliflower into your salads. Great texture and it adds that wonderful cauliflower heartiness!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Last week's CSA: photos

This week's selection

Baby moo

Never a still moment

Take a picture of ME with the share.

Lovely parsnips

Friday, September 9, 2011

Chicken Tikka Masala

I make this a little saucier, a little less salty and with more zing. Tikka, as it is called in our house, is a staple in our menu. I like to add approximately 2 cups of chopped fresh vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, chard or zucchini are great) with the meat at the end. One dish wonder. My husband will usually grill the chicken while I work on the sauce and our timing is usually almost perfect. He is done as I am ready to add it to the sauce.

This is not diet fare and I have tried it with half and half, the results are not the same. Sometimes we have to sacrifice our waistlines for immensely delicious flavors. This is also why we eat this about once a month instead of weekly. Eat roasted veggies the next night with a salad.

My girlfriend taught me a little trick to make your rice irresistible. Replace one cup of water or broth with a can of coconut milk. Uh huh.

Chicken Tikka Masala

original recipe from to Anna for introducing us to it.

Prep Time: 30 Min
Cook Time: 50 Min
Ready In: 2 Hrs 20 Min

6 servings


The Marinade:
1 1/2 cup yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
4 long skewers

The Sauce:
1 tablespoon butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeƱo peppers, seeded and finely chopped
4 teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


The Marinade:
In a large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger, and salt. Stir in chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour. You can prepare the night before and leave in refrigerator.

The Grill:
Preheat a grill for high heat.
Lightly oil the grill grate. Thread chicken onto skewers, and discard marinade. Grill until juices run clear, about 5 minutes on each side. Get the edges a little charred, this adds wonderful flavor to the dish.

The Sauce:
Melt butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic and jalapeƱos for 1 minute. Season with cumin, paprika, and salt. Stir in tomato sauce and cream. Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. DO NOT REDUCE TOO MUCH! Add grilled chicken, (and veggies) and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve immediately over rice. Make enough for leftovers!

Suggestions from Sharalyn:
 I used dried ginger instead of fresh. Also, I add a bit of sugar to cut the bitterness of the tomatoes. And I add garam masala and a tiny bit of curry powder.

No access to photos right now...coming soon!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

CSA Pickup: Week 2

I have to say that I am pretty impressed with how much of our food we ate last week. The only uneaten food was the fennel, the celery and the green beans. The green beans were a mere oversight, because we love them and they are soooo easy (roast with olive oil, pull out of oven and mix with minced garlic, salt and pepper).

Last week's menu

Tuesday - BBQ steaks, grilled mixed veggies and Crash Potatoes a la Val
Wednesday - Chicken, tomato sauce (from a friend) and veggie medley over pasta and a salad
Thursday - Vegetable and tofu stir fry over coconut rice
Friday- Thai lettuce boats with roasted chicken and peanut sauce (used cucumbers)
Saturday- Chard, Onion and Gruyere Quiche and green salad
Sunday- birthday cooking!
Monday- potluck, brought green salad and sauteed cabbage and onions

This week's amazing selection:
Bagged Rainbow Chard
Collard greens
Cucumbers: slicing and pickling
Flower Bouquet
Herbs: basil, korean mint, summer savory, parsley
Potatoes (2)
Scarlet runner beans
String beans: yellow wax and royal burgundy
Summer squash: zucchini
Tomatoes: cherry, stupice and heirlooms

I am excited to roast those Parsnips and Turnips. The tomato selection is AMAZING. There so many and they are SO beautiful! Pictures are coming, I promise. My husband is working on a house project (windows) in the evenings (yeah!) so I don't have much of a window (no pun intended) for downloading pics this week and I am in the middle of a hard drive crisis that will hopefully resolve itself tomorrow (fingers crossed). Can you see how my week is? I can barely complete a thought!

My next Recipe Roundup is on Chard and Kale. I really appreciate these two, however my crew isn't completely on board. Tonight I made mini muffin pan quiches with chicken, cheddar and sauteed chard and my son ate...10 of them!! The babe ate 3. I consider that a success.

We finished off with some fresh sliced nectarines and then headed outside to eat and collect some more blackberries. My son is a little concerned about the number of jars of jam that I have given away.

Please send me any recipes you have for chard or kale. I always love new ideas! Also, what are your thoughts on kale chips? I tried some from the store and they were horrid; however, I think it was the topping they had on them. Do you make them? Eat them? Do your kids?

Also,I saw an amazing tip this week. Grate cauliflower on your salads. Absolutely delicious!

More to come soon!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Jammin' - Blackberry and Nectarine Jam

When you live on San Juan Island you eat blackberries at summer's end. You go to your secret bushes (everybody has one) and pick. It is just what you do. You freeze them. You make cobblers, crisps and pies.    A friend of mine has a ritual with her kids; if they pick enough for a pie, she will make one for them. I love that. We usually freeze 5-6 gallon bags full and we aren't quite there just yet. 

This year, since I am exploring the world of jam, I decided to attempt to replicate a jam I bought more than my share of at $7 a jar last summer: Blackberry~Nectarine Jam. I think I did it. One batch was low sugar and the second was almost without sugar all together. Tart and tasty. This will surely bring the taste of summer to our warm, homemade french loaves this winter. My pie making friend that I mentioned before, she is a bread making goddess and she is a constant source of inspiration. Check out her latest goal to see why I am so lucky to be her friend.

So, jam. I used Ball's recipe with their no / low sugar pectin. Good stuff. On their site, they have a wonderful "Pectin Calculator" that has specific measurements for the number of jars you want to make.
Here is the recipe I used. I split the fruit between the berries and the nectarines. On the container it says you can mix, on here it doesn't mention it. Also, they only refer to peaches on here, however, every site I went to said to treat nectarines just like peaches with the exception that you do not have to skin them. In addition, after I brought the mixture to it's initial boil, I used my handmixer 5-6 times to smooth it out a bit. Easy peasy. 

Pin It


There is something about Fall.

I don't know what it is exactly. Summer brings with it a sense of being carefree with sunkissed cheeks and shoulders. Winter seems to represent that warmth within. Within our homes and the homes of those we love. Spring is rebirth. Green, green, green plus whatever rainbow of tulips and daffodils greet you with the outside temperatures rising.

Fall is change. The leaves display it best on the maples. The pumpkins turn.
Little ones wake early with the hope that today is a school day.

Maybe this is why orange is my favorite color. It reminds me that change can be comforting like slipping on your favorite polar fleece and putting away your flip flops. Feeling the gentle breeze on your cheek and watching the leaves twirl to the ground.

I start to think about garlic. Yes, garlic. It is the only thing I am adamant about planting in the Fall and last year a certain bump kept me out of the garden during the cooler months. So this year, the garlic will return.

Friday, September 2, 2011

{this moment}: first tomatoes

A Friday ritual from Amanda at Soule Mama.
A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your “moment” in the comments for all to find and see.