Friday, May 09, 2003

Reading: Last night I went with some friends to hear/see a discussion with Margaret Atwood. It was part of the "Talking Volumes" bookclub sponsored by MPR, the Star Tribune and the Loft, and this month we, as a state, had read The Handmaid's Tale. Atwood is one of my favorite author's and this was one of my favorite of her novels. I had high expectations because I respect her so much as a writer and the discussion only improved my view of her. She is intelligent, witty, well-spoken and well-informed. This novel freaked me out when I first read it but I can really see the events happening. The novel has been made into an opera now and there was an interesting article by Atwood in the paper about how the opera came to be. Check out the article--it has much of the same material and points she made in the discussion last night.

Eating: We ate out last night before the "Talking Volumes" discussion. I don't know downtown St. Paul very well so had no opinion on where we ate. We ended up going to Christo's, a Greek restaurant in an old train station. Very cool restaurant and good food too. There is also a location on Nicollet Ave. in Minneapolis. I ordered the Greek Hash, just because it sounded a little different. It was Gyros, potatoes, peppers, onions, mushrooms and tomatoes with feta cheese on top. It was pretty good but it was HUGE! I ate quite a bit and still have leftovers enough for easily 3 more meals.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Reading: I let my friend borrow one of my favorite children's books, Underwear, to read to her son. He had already heard it at school but it never ceases to amuse me to read the book. You can't help but smile as Orfo the Orangutan and Zachary the Zebra challenge Bismark the Buffalo to say "underwear" 10 times without smiling. Underwear (the clothing article and the book) is funny, no matter how old (or what species) you are.

Eating: Another yummy recipe from the Thrivent cookbook (are you sick of that one yet? I will try some other cookbook and recipe next week, I promise): Turkey Noodle Stew. Start with about a half pound of turkey breast tenderloin (or chicken breast which is easier to find at the store and in my freezer). Slice into 1/4" strips and brown in 1 T. oil with a small chopped onion (or not). Stir together 1 can of cream of celery soup, 1 can (14.5oz) chicken broth and 1 T. lemon pepper seasoning. Pour this mixture over the turkey and bring to a boil. Add 2 C. frozen mixed vegetables and 3 C. uncooked egg noodles. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes, until noodles and veggies are cooked. Serve with fresh biscuits or bread. This just has a really good taste to it. I think it is the lemon pepper seasoning.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Reading: Nothing to report here today. I am in the middle of 2 books and will write about them when I finish. One that I look forward to reading is called " Prodigal Sons & Material Girls: How Not to be Your Child's ATM" by Nathan Dungan. I read about it in the Thrivent Magazine and then the next day in the St. Olaf Magazine. I have a connection to the author--he is my husband's cousin's wife's brother (I didn't say it was a close connection) and he also used to work at Thrivent Financial back when we were Lutheran Brotherhood (ah, the good old days!). He was VP of marketing and often spoke about the "Share, Save, Spend" philosophy. He has now written this book discussing that and more.

Eating: We made this recipe for the second time last night. The first time, I ended up with pasta sauce all over my white shirt (yes, it is still there after 3 washings including bleach) and all over the kitchen. Apparently, I am blonder than I appear because I shook the jar after I had loosened the lid. Anyway, here is Cheesy Beef Spirals. It tastes a lot like lasagna but is a little easier to make and you won't have a huge pan of lasagna to eat for a week. Brown 1lb ground beef (the recipe says 2 lbs but that is just too much meat) with 1 clove of garlic, freshly pressed, and 1 small onion chopped. Stir in 1 26oz jar of spaghetti sauce, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cook 2 cups rotini (spiral) pasta and drain. In a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish, spread 1/2 C. of the meat sauce. Then layer 1/2 of the pasta, then 1/2 C. sour cream. Next, spread over 1/2 of the remaining sauce, the rest of the pasta and then a layer of cubed Velveeta (1/2 lb). Spread the remaining sauce and top with 2 C. shredded Mozarella (this may be too much, in my opinion). Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly. Serve with garlic bread (we buy the pre-sliced frozen garlic bread and make a couple slices at a time in the toaster oven) and a green salad. It is very filling and we have leftovers for at least 2 more meals so I would say it serves 6-8. This recipe is also from the cookbook I got from Thrivent and I am happy to report I did not throw any sauce across the kitchen this time!

Monday, May 05, 2003

Reading: Our next book for bookclub is "Life of Pi" which looks interesting. I thought it might have something to do with the number/symbol pi (as in "pi times r squared") but it does not. Maybe I should write a book about that...

I have a few books I found that I have started and never finished so I may read some of those in between bookclub books. I may never ever finish reading Wuthering Heights, though. I have started that one about 7 times and never made if much past 20 pages. What is classic about that book? I may never know. Maybe I should start in the middle or something.

Eating: As promised, the recipe for Beefy Hashbrown Bake. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a 8x8 pan, combine 4 cups frozen shredded hashbrowns, 3 T. oil and some black pepper (don't measure pepper, as I have said before). Bake for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile (back at the ranch...), brown 1 lb. ground beef. Drain and stir in a little garlic powder, 1 C. water and 1 pkg. brown gravy mix. Bring to a boil and cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add in 2 C. frozen mixed vegetables (or corn, in our case) and cook and stir for ~5 minutes more. Stir in 1/2 C. shredded cheddar and half of a 2 oz can of French fried onion thingies. Spread over top of hashbrowns (which will probably not be brown) and bake for 10 minutes. Sprinkle 1/2 C. shredded cheddar and the rest of the onion thingies over top and bake another 5 until the cheese is melted. Voila!
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