On the menu

Monday, August 31, 2009

(the picture that I took of this meal was not uploading well so I had to print it, scan it, save it and then upload which lost some resolution so I opted for the magazine shot instead.)

One of the most highly requested dishes of my kitchen - Chicken meatballs with Pomegranate Sauce served with pita wedges and seasoned Greek yogurt, butter noodles and salad.

I got this recipe from my BHG Magazine. It has been a big hit with the family. I altered it a bit to fit our taste. The recipe calls for Lamb but I use Chicken or Turkey. I have never used a full 2 lbs. of meat and it feeds 7 of us just fine. (Maybe that's because of the pasta and salad I serve as well.) Worrying that a full 1/4 cup of mint would be too much, I just chop a few fresh leaves. Naan bread is really good and I actually like it better than the Pita bread.

I've used 100% POM juice and I've tried a blend of Pomegranate juice (the kind with apple or other juices mixed with Pomegranate juice) My kids like it better with the blended juice.
I love Greek yogurt and it's the only kind I use in recipes. I never measure how much garlic or mint to season the yogurt with - I just throw it in and it's always good.

In order to stretch the dinner, I serve up some whole wheat pasta and I've found that when everything kind of melds together, it becomes more like a sweetened version of Stroganoff, which is another fan favorite at Casa Montgomery.
As requested, I am adding the recipe...
Bon appetit!
1 egg or 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 lbs. ground lamb/chicken/turkey
1 16-oz bottle pomegranate juice
1 tsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp. snipped fresh chives
1 clove garlic, minced
Fresh mint leaves
Toasted pita bread
1. Preheat oven to 300 F. In large bowl combine egg, bread crumbs, mint, 2 or 3 cloves garlic, salt, and pepper. Add ground meat; mix well. Shape into 32 meatballs; set aside.
2. For sauce, in medium saucepan bring pomegranate juice to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 25 minutes or until reduced to about 1/2 cup. Add sugar; stir to dissolve.
3. Meanwhile, in large skillet brown half the meatballs at a time in hot olive oil, turning to brown evenly. Transfer to large baking pan. Bake 15-20 minutes or until instant-read thermometer registers 160 F.
In medium bowl combine yogurt, 1 tablespoon of the chives, and 1 clove garlic. To serve, drizzle meatballs with pomegranate sauce; sprinkle with remaining chives and mint. Serve with seasoned yogurt and pita wedges.
Let me know how it turns out!

Have a Seat

Thursday, August 27, 2009

We are slow-ly gearing up for our kitchen make-over.
I almost have everything purchased. It's just the time I can't buy...

I have been wanting these bar stools for the island but at $179.99 a pop (on sale even) I thought maybe I should find an alternative. I have a vintage metal chair that pulls out into a step stool. It is very cool and I think it would look great but I need two of them. I actually had two but I let one go at my mom's estate sale. I figured I didn't need it. What was I thinking?? So now I have to go another route and these are it. Cute, yes?

Or these. But they are even more expensive.

But then, I stumbled upon this website. This chair has similar lines. And with its leather seat, it may just be more comfortable for those little fannies in my house. A fun color of spray paint will take these a long way. And the best part? $86.99 each - two are still less expensive than one of the others.

I will definately keep this in the style file until the time comes!
Oh, and I better get three. The little kids already argue over who's going to sit in the "King's chair" at the dining table - the name they've given to the armchair...I could just hear the arguements on this one..."I want the swively had it last time..." yaddi, yaddi, yadda...

"Wows" not "Woes" of Motherhood

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Today, Trae man, my 1 year old, was pretending he was a puppy. He drops to a crawl and scoots around with his tongue hanging out. I call him like a puppy and he scampers over and gives me big, slobbery kisses. It's his new cutest thing ever.

I call that a "wow" of motherhood. Wows are those little moments in your everyday life which bear you up and remind you that your work as a mother has rewards, no matter how small they seem. Maybe we don't even realize they are rewards - those times which cause us to remove ourselves from this fast paced world, for just a moment, and let our children, or others' children bring a smile to our face.

There are "woes" of motherhood, also. I have a few. More than a few. And because you might too, I'd rather not mention them. Not today anyway...

I'd rather focus on the "wows."

Reese came up to me last night and said he was all out of hugs. Arms outstretched, he waited for a re-fill. I wrapped my arms around him and snuggled for a bit. With a huge smile he said he was all filled up again and happily turned around to go back and play.

While I was doing some "circle cleaning," Blair was sitting on the couch. She watched me go around the room and said, "Momma, I love you. You're a beautiful woman." She was all dramatic like and tossed her hair as she said it. Laughing, I told her she could just stick around me all she'd like, yesiree...
More wows.

My friend's 7 year old boy was with us on Saturday. He played so well with the baby and Blair. I heard their giggles all day. I was impressed by his gentle nature. When it came time for dinner, Jon grilled us up some sirloin burgers, corn on the cob and we let them have ice cold root beer in bottles. It was a picnic after all. The neighbor boy came over to have a bite too.
After my friend's son ate, he patted his stomach and said, "That was some good burger!"
There was more chaos than usual that day but strangely, somehow it felt so nice. I considered it to be another wow of motherhood. Jon agreed and so it was a "wow of parenthood" - letting ourselves enjoy the kids' new decibels of laughter.

Did you notice that wow upside down is mom??

I hope you get wowed today.

Let yourself be wowed
and then tell me how!
This is starting to sound like Dr. Suess..

Nourishing Hearts

Thursday, August 13, 2009

What is it about food?
Why is it so central to our gatherings?

Besides the obvious-having to eat for survival, why is it so important?

Is it the food or the people with whom we're sharing?

I think it is a little of both.

Sitting down to a meal together is the time that people bond, where friendships are renewed and informative conversations are spoken. This is the time to catch up on the day's events or hear of personal victories or defeats. It seems that life is sweeter (no pun intended) when we share a meal together. We enjoy the taste of scrumptious food and are thankful to the laborious hands that prepared it.

It is also a time of vulnerability. It is a selfless act, this giving from one's pantry and hoping that someone will enjoy the outcome of your mixing and baking, stirring and cooking.

Will they like it? What if they don't? Is it too salty? Spicy? Is it done in the middle?

These are the questions that go through my mind.

But I don't think that should be a worry. People you gather with love you. And the food, even at its best, comes second to the crowd who's enjoying it.. or not.

I remember growing up in the Pacific NW, summers brought us evenings where my mother would spread newspaper on the table and we, with our mallets and forks, would crack the crab fresh from Astoria, Oregon. It was so tasty. But the memories of us kids proudly displaying a big, whole piece that we carefully removed from the shell, lasted much longer than the buttery taste.

There was a restaurant that we'd go to when I was in high school. It was an all night restaurant. After the movies or after just being out, my friends and I would go and order steak fries with tarter sauce, hot chocolate and nachos. Not the best meal in the world, I know, although their fries were really good. We would sit, eat and laugh hysterically for hours. It never failed, we saw other friends there and suddenly we had a huge group. It was comfortable, it was fun. We were young.
Nope, definitely not the food there!

When I lived in South Carolina, my friend Lara would come over to pick up her boys and I'd have fresh, hot-from-the-oven banana bread ready. We'd sit and chat and keep cutting pieces from the loaf, losing all track of time. It was the best recipe I ever had. My neighbor and friend in Utah, Kirsten, gave it to me. She would bring over a loaf and we'd do the same. I loved that.

I remember there was a family in my town that had problems. Who doesn't? But really, this was serious. My mom, seeing their situation only in passing, stopped by their house and asked if the kids could come and play. She loaded them all up in the car, 5 of them I think, and brought them home to us. We rode the school bus with these kids. My mom grilled hamburgers, set out potato salad, chips, cookies, and fruit. They ate like they had never had a meal. They had food at home but they were not allowed to eat. A terrible situation. My mom stuffed them until they couldn't eat another bite and then they played -all day into the evening, building forts with hay bales, climbing trees, riding horses and coming back to the picnic table for another chip.

She cried after she dropped them back at their home when the kids said to her, "We'll never forget this as long as we live." They were not allowed to come back to us. Later we heard that the state took them away from their house and to another foster home. We prayed it was better this time.

Food is comforting. But it is also comforting to know that when it is served to you from friends or family it is done out of love. Food heals hearts and minds. It lets you forget the day for a moment. It makes you happy, so simply happy.

And when it is something that is so delicious, and you bite in to it, your eyes widen with delight. It begs you to ask for its recipe so you can continue the cycle of nourishing hearts and minds.

I think that's what food really does...

I'd like to hear your thoughts on the subject!

Un Temps Magnifique!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Come along on a little tour...

At the Plaka in Athens.

Jon at The Louvre

Laura visiting the Vatican.

Our train to Paris
Last night Jon asked me out on a date and took me to see the movie, "Julie & Julia."
His idea.
I say that because I want to give him credit for thinking of me. It makes me feel secure knowing that someone knows what I would like, especially the one who should know the most about me.

We took in a later show because we had other stuff to do around the house.
Jon bought me popcorn, water, Raisinets, Goobers and Junior Mints.
We didn't eat it all.

As a matter of fact, I am enjoying some raisinets right now. One of my pleasures of motherhood - hiding and enjoying a bit of candy anytime I feel like it. I'm sure the kids will sniff it out sooner or later. They have as keen a sense of smell and tracking skills as a Bloodhound. Except for getting dirty socks out of their room or finding that lost library book.

The movie was great. It was clever and interesting and a nice love story of sorts.
Now I want to dive into Julia Child's Parisian cooking. When we were at the Smithsonian we saw the recreation of her kitchen and all the vintage copper pots she used. It was fascinating.

I only have one copper pot of my own. Not vintage.

On the way home we talked about our own trip to France a few years back. We walked all over Paris as I pinched myself making sure I was there. The Louvre, the architecture, the fashions, the food...I was in love. I came home raving to my mom about their scarves and pashminas. My mom surprised me with a cashmere pashmina for Christmas that year. Sadly, I think it was lost in our move.

We both would love to travel abroad again and savor the flavors of Europe. As we walked the pretty Parisian streets, I saw people holding baguettes, wrapped in paper, tucked under their arm like a newspaper. I wanted a baguette. We were on the Champs Elysees and I did not see a patisserie. I finally asked where I could find a baguette and a nice person said to go off into the side streets and I would find one. So we did. They were lovely little cobblestone streets with shops closely lining their edge. Things like that make me giddy with excitement.

I saw a patisserie and the Parisians lining up to get their daily bread. I waited, nervously, knowing I would have to speak in French. I had a friend who spoke French so she wrote out things for me. So when the clerk asked what I would like, I was ready, hoping she didn't ask anything else because I only memorized one easy conversation.

Success! At least to my ears anyway...

I proudly held on to my baguette and we enjoyed it on the overnight train to Italy. ( That was a story!)

It was a little challenging to find the bread but I savored every little bit.
I don't know when we'll get back to Europe so I'm glad that we crammed as much enjoyment into our whirlwind trip as we could.

Just as in life, even though our days can give us some challenges,
we need to savor every little bit, filling them with as much enjoyment as we can.

Success and The Keys

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Eleanor Roosevelt once said that no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

I taught the young women ages 12-18 at church about the ability to succeed and the keys to our success. Our discussion led us to finding out why we are so quick to underrate ourselves and why our attitudes about ourselves can hinder that success. Why, when someone compliments us, do we feel the need to reply with a negative remark? Why can't we just say, "thank you." It's not vain to accept a compliment and think to yourself, "I do look good today!" After all, we believe we were born in the image of God. Don't you think He did good work??

I also asked to whom they spoke with on a regular basis. One girl said, "Ourselves"

Everyone giggled.

I told her she was absolutely correct. Our internal dialogue is going on all day long. I know when I am working around the house and make a mistake, I'll say to myself, "That was a bonehead move, Laura." "Way to go, exlax." or "nice job, dufus."

They giggled again.

But it's true. We talk to ourselves (maybe you don't) or think about things all day long. The more you fill your mind with negative thoughts about yourself, the more you are limiting your success.

Doubt, insecurity, or fear of failure creep in and poof! there goes some of our talents that could have been and who knows what successes you could have had with those.

We do have to acknowledge our weaknesses so we can try to make them strong. And if there are things that we perceive as weaknesses which cannot be changed like foot size, height or even material wants (Hey, who wouldn't like a 2009 Mercedes SL65 AMG 604 HP Biturbo v-12 engine with 19 inch alloys??) then we need to let it go and focus our energies on what we can change. So, while I do like my narrow foot size, I know I'll never be 5'10" and I've given up on that car dream...for now.

Now I know that training your mind to develop a positive attitude isn't easy.

For some it is a constant struggle. I would never reduce to triviality the effects of depression on one's mind. I would never tell a person with depression to just get over it, have faith and you'll be healed. I think mood disorders are just as real as diabetes or cancer and should be treated just as aggressively. So for those whose struggles include depression, I understand that simplistic solutions for you may cause a spiritual isolation. Mood disorders are very real and should be dealt with professionally and with sensitivity.

I wanted the girls to see that success can happen and even at their young age, they can come to know this.

And there are keys to success.

We discussed these keys and I told them that they had the power, together with faith to do anything that they wanted. It was up to them to go for it.

When they know who they really are, they are better able to rely on their own strength and not be defined by what others think of them. They can also differentiate by what is real and what advertisers want to make them think is real. I told them not to wait until they are 30 to figure it out. It's okay to know this now. It's okay to study this out in their mind and try new things and be leaders now. I said that when they hang back, hoping for other people to speak up, all those others are waiting for someone to speak up too.

I guaranteed it.

Some of the best leaders in this country are the ones who had an idea and wanted to affect change somewhere and didn't let anyone hold them back.

Brother Raleigh, in a beautiful testimony, said there wasn't anything he wouldn't do for his children. I reminded them of that and asked them to imagine their Heavenly Father saying that.

He did.

It is called The Atonement.

And no one want us to succeed in life more than Heavenly Father.

I swear I saw light bulbs over each of their lovely heads.
And I hope they saw a heart over mine. Because I love them.

Saturday, in preparation for the lesson, I went to the flea market and gathered all kinds of vintage skeleton keys. You know I love vintage and it doesn't take much arm twisting to get me to go to the flea! I tied each key with ribbon and gave one to each girl as a reminder that they hold the keys to their success.
The keys were all different shapes and sizes. All very sculptural and beautiful.

Each opens a door somewhere.

It's just up to us to find that door.
Thank heaven for friends, family and a loving God to cheer us on in our search.

Still time for summer sun

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Well, here we are on Aug. 1st going into the last full month of the summer.

The kids are already panicking about going back to school.

Although I love summer and the fun it brings us, I do look forward to getting the kids back on schedule.
Translation: I'm looking forward to the school year!

I actually think the kids are too.

They want to see their friends and socialize.

It's just that work thing they don't want to do.

I didn't either when I was their age I guess...

So, thanks August for starting us on another month of summer fun and leading us in to another season of Fall beauty.
But until it's officially back to work, we'll take the summer sun!