Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kevin's Favorite Recipes - Red Lentils with Coconut Milk

This was one of the first meals I made for company. It is quick and easy, only requires one pot, and is very tasty. Next to my vegetarian chili, it is probably the single recipe I have made most often. The only trick is to thoroughly rinse the lentils until the rinsing water runs clear. Also, if you can't find red lentils you will have to cook the green lentils longer.

Ingredients

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion
Salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp garam masala
1.25 cups split red or yellow lentils (rinsed)
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
Ground black pepper
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup basmati rice (dry- prepare according to directions)

Directions


1) Combine the oil, onion, and 1 tsp salt in a large saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and begins to brown, 4-5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, and garam masala and cook until fragrant, ~1 min. Add the lentils, coconut milk, and 3 cups water and bring to a boil.

2) Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and simmer until lentils get soft and form a thick puree, ~20-30 minutes. Stir in cilantro, and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, garnishing with diced tomatoes and accompanied with basmati rice. I usually cook the basmati rice with some of the leftover coconut milk and a few lightly crushed cardamom pods.


Lentils with Coconut Milk and Rice
**(Amy's note: this might look a little scary (lentils never do well in photos), but it's so good. I love when Kevin makes this!)

Taste: 4/5
Convenience: 4/5
Health: 5/5
Cost: 4/5



Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday Meditation: Jenny Joseph

Warning
By Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

red girl
photo credit

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

We live very blessed lives, Kevin and I.

We both were raised in happy homes with parents who love us and are still there supporting us.

We have siblings who we adore- who each live unique lives that teach us more about the world around us.

We have a home that we love, with cats that we love, and food on the table.

I have a job that I love, following the career I want to pursue, and Kevin is following his dreams. That we have the ability to follow our hearts' desires is a huge blessing.

We have each other- and a marriage that gets stronger every day. We are healthy, and we are happy, and each is something that so many out there are lacking.

We have friends, and family, and wonderful blog readers, who follow our lives through these sometimes sporatic posts. On this day, my favorite day of the year, we hope all of you are feeling blessed and joyful as well.


“Gratitude, that very specific feeling of thankfulness in your heart, allows you to see and absorb all you have, forgetting for a moment all you may lack. It connects your brain with your heart, and gives you the ground to be a more giving, effective, loving human. Being grateful allows generosity to flow. And many believe it also makes us more receptive—as in, the more you love what you have, the more you get what you want.”
-Valerie Reiss

Skywards

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Food Review: Harbor Que

HarborQue
1421 Lawrence St
Baltimore, MD 21230

I always thought the sign that Harbor Que, a barbecue joint on Fort Ave in Fed Hill/Locust Point, that says "Barbecue with a view" is kind of funny- because the only view is of the street. Nonetheless, that's really the only thing askew with this place.

I usually get the Carolina pulled pork sandwich platter (comes with two sides, $7.95). The meat has a ton of flavor and is the star of this entree- in fact I normally just discard the bun and eat the pork out. The sides are run of the mill, though I am a fan of the mac and cheese. Nonetheless, you get quite a bit of food for $8.

Harborque Two

Kevin usually can't resist the ribs- the half rack platter is $10.95 (sorry for the unattractive styrofoam containers in the pictures). He usually gets it with corn bread- which has been hit or miss. Last time we went it was just perfect- the time before it was a little too dry. The ribs are generally pretty juicy and the sauce is good too (you can get some extra in little to-go containers near the front).

Harborque

Overall, we enjoy this place- it's quite close to us, the prices are reasonable, and the food is good. Try it out!

Harbor Que BBQ & Catering on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

Time for the Scavenger Hunt! I'm a little late today but better late than never, right?

This week, the challenges were:

1. The View Above
2. Something Hot
3. Something Cold
4. Electronic
5. Sparkle

Without further ado, my interpretations:

1. The View Above. This is from our rooftop deck- we have another deck that is tiny and then the backyard. It's very Baltimore! Everyone's backyard area is unique.

view from above

2. Something Hot. Kevin made hot cocoa today for us- here are our two mugs. I did some brush processing to make it look more like a drawing, since the subject matter isn't too interesting!

Cocoa for two

3. Something Cold. A little boring- I guess I had drinks on the mind! I kind of like how it turned out anyway though.

Ice

4. Electronic. We watch Glee on Hulu over the weekend. Yay Glee! Anyone else a fan?

Watching TV

5. Sparkle. My wedding ring- passed down to Kevin from his grandmother. I love it!

Wedding Ring

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rally to Restore Sanity: Part II

After finally getting to the Rally to Restore Sanity, we pushed through the crowds of people and were able to listen (very faintly) to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

Rallying in our Nation's capitol

Who's that handsome devil on the left? ;) The picture above is as we were trying to get closer- we finally got close and the people got much more dense:

Rally to Restore Sanity

Kevin is tall so he saw a lot more than I did. What does that sign say, you ask?

Sign

I love political rallies that don't take themselves too seriously. At any rate, we only listened for about half an hour, because it was hard to hear and I couldn't really see much, and I think we were downwind of the Legalize Pot crowd, so instead we decided to walk around and look at some signs:

Sign for sanity

misc 50360

Barack, is that you?

Haha, okay that guy doesn't really look anything like the President, but I thought it was kind of funny anyway.

People were like monkeys at this rally- on traffic lights, climbing trees (you can see the tree people in the far back of this picture), whatever they could to get a better view:

Bunch of monkeys

But I think this is my favorite photo of the day:

Insanity at the rally for sanity

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rally to Restore Sanity: Part I

The last weekend in October, we headed to D.C. to share in the joy that was the Rally to Restore Sanity, hosted by Jon Stewart.

It was actually pretty cool to go to a rally in D.C. on the National Mall- plus, nothing like being surrounded by 215,000 people who largely agree with you on politics. ;)

What was not so fun or sane was the ability to actually get to the Mall. We showed up at the College Park metro at about 10 am (the rally started at noon). This is the line we faced to just get tickets for the metro:

Long lines to get to the rally

That line, my friends, took 2 hours to get through. Two. Hours. We're very dedicated to sanity, I guess. While waiting in line, we met some people from Chicago and Baltimore. And I took pictures of some of the more entertaining people in line:

The Beast wants sanity!

Apologies to the people right next to us who I managed to get a close-up of in my attempts to get an incognito photo of the Beast.

The metro ride was okay- slightly crowded. I was a little worried because apparently there had been some bomb threat that morning on the metro, but everything was cleared by the time we got down there (sanity, people! where's the sanity?).

DC metro

By the time we got to downtown DC, we realized just how many people had shown up! It was kind of cool though because almost all the streets around the Mall were totally shut down, allowing everyone to just walk in the middle of the roads. Here are some of the crowds just hanging out in front of the National Archives:

Crowds in front of National Archives

We had missed the first hour of the rally, but we pushed on towards the Capitol building, in front of which the rally was being held.....

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

It's been awhile, but I actually managed to complete the photo Scavenger Hunt this weekend!


Here are the rules from Ashley's blog:

1. Anyone can participate.
2. You're encouraged to take five new photos this week for the challenge.
3. If you get stumped, you may use one photo from your archive.
4. Link up here on Sunday (or Tuesday at the latest).
5. Have fun!

Here are my photos for the week!

1. Self-Portrait. I learned my reflection is not terribly attractive in a spoon.

Personal reflection

2. Handmade. This was the hardest one for me this week. I decided to take a photo of the cookbook my sister made for me when we moved to Baltimore- maybe not "made by hand" per se, but certainly made from the heart!

Cookbook Gift

3. Orange. Kevin noticed this really orange house a few weeks ago- I mean, it's really orange. especially with the orange fire hydrant and newspaper rack!

Orange

4. Candle. Taken in a mirror.

Shared light

5. Traffic signs. Baltimore has some pretty ridiculous parking signs- it's very easy to get a ticket if you don't read them very carefully!

Parking sign, Baltimore

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Recipe: Peanut Butter Banana Bread

First, a thank you and a request- thank you to everyone who has voted for me in the Mobbies! I really appreciate it! If you haven't voted, or would like to vote again (you can vote once every day), please do so at this link! There are only four days left to vote.

Next- a yummy recipe! I love peanut butter, and I love bananas- so this recipe from Cooking Light had to be good. And it was! The only change I would make would be to not add peanuts, but use crunchy peanut butter instead- I've adjusted the recipe here. Also, the pictures don't show the glazed version- but the glaze was delicious, I would highly recommend! (you might want to even double it).

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

1.5 cups mashed ripe bananas
1/3 c. plain fat-free yogurt
1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
3 tbsp butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice

For glaze:
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp 1% milk
1 tbsp creamy peanut butter


Directions

1) Preheat oven to 350

2) Combine first 5 ingredients in large bowl- beat with mixer at medium speed.

3) Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and spices in medium bowl. Add flour mixture to banana mixture; beat until just blended. Pour batter into a loaf pan coated with cooking spray.

4) Bake at 350F for 1 hour and 5 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes in pan. Remove bread from pan; cool.

5) To prepare glaze, combine 3 glaze ingredients in a small bowl, and stir with a whisk. Drizzle over bread.

Yum!

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Food Review: Grilled Cheese & Co

Grilled Cheese & Co
500 Edmondson Avenue
Catonsville, MD 21228

How did I not think of this? A whole restaurant just for grilled cheese sandwiches? This is like a dream come true for us cheese lovers. And they're fancy. Not just your run-of-the-mill grilled cheese (though they do have an "original" option).

Located in Catonsville, the one downside of this restaurant is that it's not that close to downtown Baltimore, but it is a quick drive on the Baltimore Beltway.

Grilled Cheese & Co

The restaurant is cute enough, though looks like it can get crowded. The menu is posted on the wall, which makes it a little uncomfortable when you're trying to figure out what to order and it appears as though you're staring at the people trying to eat:

Grilled cheese menu

I loved the menu options- so many of them sounded good! Next time I might just have to get the Veggie Delight- havarti cheese with roasted vegetables. I love havarti!

This time around, I ordered the Crabby Melt, and Kevin got the Kickin' BBQ chicken. Okay, so $7-8 for a grilled cheese is maybe a little steep. I mean you can make a grilled cheese at home for probably 50 cents apiece if you're not getting fancy. I would feel more comfortable paying $5-6 for a grilled cheese, but that's okay, it's still cheaper than a lot of places.

My crabby melt was pretty good. It was toasted and cooked just perfectly. I'm pretty sure there was some Old Bay in there, which was a nice touch. The crab flavor was maybe a little overwhelming though so I'm not sure I would get it again.

Crabby Melt Grilled Cheese

Kevin's sandwich was tasty as well, with pepper jack cheese (yum!), grilled chicken, and BBQ sauce.

I also ordered some of the Tomato Soup- it was fantastic, maybe my favorite part of the meal! Creamy, with big chunks of tomato and topped with parmesan and croutons. Definitely a good addition.

Tomato Soup

I think I would definitely go back here. The biggest con was that it was slightly overpriced. The grilled cheese were pretty creative for, well, grilled cheese, and there are a bunch of other sandwiches I'd like to try (and have more of that soup!).

Grilled Cheese & Co. on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Meditation: Rainier Maria Rilke

Sunset
Rainier Maria Rilke

Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colors
which it passes to a row of ancient trees.
You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you
one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth.

leaving you, not really belonging to either,
not so hopelessly dark as that house that is silent,
not so unswervingly given to the eternal as that thing
that turns to a star each night and climbs-

leaving you (it is impossible to untangle the threads)
your own life, timid and standing high and growing,
so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out,
one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.

celestial light
photo credit

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Book Review: The Girl Who Played with Fire

Welcome Book Bloggers!

Book Blogger Hop

The question this week is, "What are your feelings on losing followers? Have you ever stopped following a blog?"

My answer- I hope that I can keep followers, but I want them to enjoy reading the blog, and I understand that sometimes people just don't connect. I personally try to update my blogroll every month or so, and stop following the ones I no longer enjoy.

The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium, #2)The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked this book more than the first one, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Lisbeth Salander didn't grate on me quite as much; I think because we finally learn a little bit more about her and her background. And I'm still a fan of Blomkvist, though he sure manages to canoodle his way into pretty much every main character's bedroom.

There were also fewer periods where the book seemed to drag, though about 2/3 of the way through, things did seem a bit stuck. In general, though, the pace was good and I definitely wanted to keep reading to find out what was going to happen. The end was quite a cliffhanger as well...

I had a few instances where I became disengaged- like the whole Paolo guy and the story with Miriam, Salander's sometimes-girlfriend. Some famous boxer is suddenly to the rescue? Why was that needed? It was another one of those things that was supposed to make Salander seem mysterious and surprising and instead was just a bit unbelievable.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Al & Beth's Wedding

I was so happy that Kevin and I could attend the wedding of one of my friends from Semester at Sea, Al. It was great to see him so happy and marrying Beth, and also great to see some of my other SAS friends who came to the wedding!

It was a beautiful fall day in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania:

Wedding in the Fall

I don't have shots of the actual ceremony, because there were too many heads in the way- but it was lovely!

This is my favorite photo of the day, because the light was just perfect, and it shows all the SASers who attended (aside from Al, and our dates). Me, Danielle (who has a great food blog), Tom, Lesia (who occasionally blogs about her path to becoming a registered dietician), and Christine:

misc 51037

I haven't seen some of them in several years, so it was great to catch up!

Then the reception began, and the bride and groom made their entrance:

Grand Entrance

They did their first dance; the groom went barefoot the whole wedding (very Al):

First Dance

Barefoot

They had great music and we had a ton of fun dancing and hanging out!

Friends

It was great to see everyone- hopefully there will be another chance soon to see them again.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Mobbies


The Baltimore Sun is having its annual blog contests, and I'm nominated under the "Personal" category. I would love your vote! Please vote at this link.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Recipe: Peanut Butter Pie

I love sharing recipes from some of my favorite food blogs. Joy the Baker is definitely one of the best. She had this no-bake pie in "tart" form but I was too lazy to make my own crust so I just bought a pre-made graham cracker crust. Nonetheless, it was still delish!

Peanuty Pie

Ingredients
For the Crust (unless you're lazy like me and just want to buy one from the store):

12 double graham crackers (the kind that measure about 5 x 2 1/2-inches)
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
pinch of salt

For the Filling:

1 3/4 cups heavy cream, divided
1 cup natural peanut butter
3/4 (6 ounces) cup cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sweetened condensed milk

Crust the graham crackers in a food processor, in a plastic back with a rolling pin or with your hands in a bowl. Add the melted butter and stir thoroughly, making sure all of the crumbs are coated. Pour the graham cracker and butter mixture into a 9-inch pie pan. Press the mixture along the sides of the tart pan and along the bottom until evenly coated. Carefully place the tart pan in the freezer while you prepare the filling.

To make the filling combine the peanut butter, softened cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk in the bowl of an electric mixer fit with a paddle attachment. You can also use the food processor if you’d like.

Blend the three ingredients until thoroughly incorporated, but don’t over blend or some liquids will separate.

In a separate bowl, whip 3/4 cup of heavy cream to soft peaks. Add the whipped cream to the peanut butter mixture and fold together until well incorporated.

Remove the tart pan from the freezer and spoon in the peanut butter filling. Spread evenly.

Pie

Whip up the remaining cup of heavy cream to stiff peaks and add to the top of the peanut butter filling. Refrigerate for at least two hours, or overnight. Top with chocolate chips. Yum!

Peanut butter Pie