Monday, February 28, 2011

A Spicy Indian Stew

This  is a super easy, fast and healthy vegetarian stew -- perfect for a weeknight supper. Perhaps you've noticed a trend: the recipes I've shared so far are vegetarian. This is because I've followed a mostly vegetarian diet (actually pescatarian, since I do eat fish occasionally) for about seven years now. I encourage non-vegetarians to eat one or two vegetarian meals a week -- it's good for your health and for the environment.

Spicy Indian Stew

1) Cook 1 cup basmati or jasmine rice according to package directions. Cover and keep warm.

2) While rice is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large skillet. Add 1 medium onion, chopped, and 2 minced garlic cloves. Season with coarse salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add 1-1/2 tablespoons curry powder and 1 teaspoon ground ginger. Cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. 

3) Add a 28-oz. can tomato sauce (not pasta sauce), three 15-oz. cans chickpeas (rinsed and drained) and 1-1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice. Serve over rice and top with a little fat-free or low-fat plain yogurt, if desired. Serve with whole grain naan (Indian flatbread). 
Recipe adapted from Everyday Food.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Are you familiar with Bakelite? Pronounced "Bake-a-lite," this early plastic was developed by Belgian chemist Dr. Leo Baekeland between 1907 and 1909. Bakelite was one of the first plastics made from synthetic components. It was hailed for its nonconductive and heat-resistant properties, making it suitable for electrical components. Cost effective and functional, Bakelite was used in kitchen utensils, small appliances, telephones, cameras, game pieces, clocks and radios, buttons and belt buckles, jewelry and many more everyday objects. 

Colors range from brown to black to red, butterscotch and yellow to orange and green. Some pieces have a marbled design. Today, Bakelite is collectible and one of my favorite things to hunt for in antiques stores. 

I purchased many of the items in these photos for just a few dollars each. Jewelry tends to be more expensive, but the earrings above and bangles shown below cost between $25 and $75. I've seen many pieces priced well over $100.

Items with patterns and inlays such as dots, chevrons or stripes are especially sought after and are therefore more expensive, which is why I don't have many of them. I was lucky to find the beautiful cake server above, with its two-toned handle and engraving, for a decent price. The corkscrew handle is Bakelite but looks like tortoiseshell.

When searching for vintage pieces, it's always fun to find things in their original packaging, like these "Dinkee" cocktail forks. Unfortunately it was not a complete set when I purchased it, but I couldn't resist these four in their original box. I love the marbled pattern on the handles. The forks are very useful for serving olives and hors d'oeuvres, as stated on the box! I get a kick out of mid-century advertising lingo: "With Dinkees on hand it has been observed, your table looks grand, your guests are well served."

Do you collect Bakelite? If so, I'd love to hear from you. What are your favorite treasured pieces? Let me know by clicking on "Comment" below.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Egg White Omelet

I'm a huge fan of breakfast. It always surprises me when people say they don't eat breakfast, because most days I wake up hungry! I'll lie in bed a few minutes considering what to eat: maybe a cup of Liberté yogurt (amazing yogurt from Québec) and some multi-grain toast with marmalade or cherry jam. Or a bowl of oatmeal. I like McCann's quick cooking Irish oatmeal with unsweetened soy or almond milk, a little honey or maple syrup, sometimes raisins and walnuts, and a sprinkling of ground flax seed or wheat germ.
On the weekend, breakfast tends to be a bit more elaborate since I have more time to prepare such yummies as banana-buttermilk pancakes (a favorite), apricot and cream cheese-stuffed French toast (heavenly!) or an omelet. Here's a tasty, healthy egg white omelet recipe from Everyday Food that I've adapted by using cheddar instead of goat cheese and adding fresh spinach. This omelet is low in fat and provides plenty of protein to get you through the morning.

Egg White Omelet

1) Whisk 1/2 cup egg whites (from about 4 eggs or use egg whites in a carton from the dairy case) with 1 tablespoon water. Season with freshly ground pepper. 

2) Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in an 8" nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add egg whites to skillet and cook 2 to 3 minutes until nearly set, using a flexible, heatproof spatula to pull up sides of omelet while tilting pan to allow uncooked egg to run underneath. 

3) Sprinkle a small amount (about 2 tablespoons) of shredded low-fat cheddar cheese, 2 tablespoons prepared salsa and some fresh baby spinach down the center of omelet. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 1 minute to allow cheese to melt. Gently slide omelet onto plate, folding over to enclose filling.

Monday, February 14, 2011

From the Heart Chocolate Cookies

Wishing you a very HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!

 Find the recipe for these yummy Chocolate Sweet Heart Cookies here.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Molten Mocha Cakes

If you're looking for something decadent to make for your sweetie this Valentine's Day, try these amazing molten mocha cakes. This Everyday Food recipe is easy to make. Really! I made them after dinner the other night and since I had most of the ingredients pre-measured, it didn't take long to prepare. They taste better than most desserts you'll get at a restaurant, in my opinion. The recipe makes two little cakes, perfect for a romantic dinner at home with your special Valentine. Enjoy with a sparkling dessert wine -- one of our favorites is Villa Lanata Moscato D'Asti (around $15 at Total Wine).

True to its name, the center of the cake is gooey and warm, with just a hint of coffee flavor (I used decaf instant coffee rather than espresso powder).

I bought these dessert plates at an antiques store many years ago, but they are not antiques. When visiting my best friend shortly after buying these plates, I discovered she had the same set! She had purchased hers at a consignment store. There are two more: one green and one purplish-blue. They have an iridescent quality to them, and are perfect for a special dessert such as this.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Armoire

The start of the new year has brought with it an inspiration to get organized. I began with the armoire in the guest bedroom, where I store my sweaters, jeans, hats, scarves, gloves and purses. This photo shows the "after" picture. I didn't take a "before" photo, but trust me, it was a mess. Loose stacks of sweaters, loads of tissue paper sticking out everywhere (I use tissue paper when folding sweaters; they tend to wrinkle less). It was a disorganized mess, and I realized it made me a bit stressed every time I opened the doors.

So out everything came. I took a hard look at each item and realized there were several sweaters and old jeans I hadn't worn in a really long time, so into the donation pile they went. I took all the errant tissue paper and separated what was smooth (to be used for folding sweaters) from what was wrinkled and torn (which I stuffed into my purses to help maintain their shape). The result: a much neater space, with items that weren't being worn weeded out. It's now easier to find what I'm looking for. It took only a few minutes to organize these shelves, but what a difference.

A few words about the photos. Inside the armoire, on the top shelf, is a photo my father took of me when I was about 3 years old. My dad had a photography studio in New York when I was little, and this is one of my favorite photos from that period. On the middle and bottom shelves are photos from calendars that I framed (images of Italy and Provence that make me dream of travel). On top of the armoire are these cherished family photos:

This is my mother's family at her brother Robert's wedding. My beautiful Mom is in the back row, second from the left.

This photo is of my mother's parents on their wedding day. My grandfather left France for the U.S., where he met and married my grandmother, who was of French descent. The two of them moved from New York back to France, where they started their family, then returned to New York and had more children. My mother, born in NYC, was the youngest of six. Sadly, both my mother's parents and my dad's father passed away before I was born. I wish I had known them, especially my Mom's mother. Everyone said she was so lovely and sweet.

I believe this is a photo of my mother's oldest sister, Annette, when she was a little girl. She and my mother were 18 years apart in age. Growing up, I was very close to my Aunt Annette.

This was my great-grandmother from Ireland, on my father's side of the family. I remember Dad saying she was a real sweetheart with a great sense of humor -- a trait that ran strong on his side of the family.

It's funny how this evolved from a post about organizing the armoire to a brief family history. I do love these old photos, and thought they deserved some explanation. Seeing them every day helps me feel connected to my past.
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