Thursday, May 22, 2008

Life's a beach...

3 words to the wise

I figured I'd leave you with some lovely beach photos taken by Mrs. Melanie Busbee.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Horace

1 words to the wise

Soooooooo today I met Melanie for lunch at Souper Salad because it's a good mid-way point for both of us and it's always quick. I noticed outside that there was a sign indicating it was under new management. A trip through the salad/soup bar proved it to be the same as I've always remembered, but there was one unmistakable difference from all of my previous visits there.

Sorry for the low quality camera phone shot

Horace had an accompanying machine that played back up instruments. During our lunch today we were treated to "Putting on the Ritz", "Under the Sea", "Take My Breath Away" and others that for some reason are escaping me. I'm not sure if this is a weekly thing or what, but it was a definite surprise. I offered Mel $50 to get up and sing with him, alas, we were short on time...

I was stunned by this man's humility in being able to play trumpet to a boombox in a stripped-down-strip-mall version of golden corral (don't get me wrong, I heart souper salad for all it's unhealthy salad goodness). We all could take a lesson from him. He looked like he was having a decent time. He's even making a buck or two. I have always considered myself someone who strays from the norm, but I never, not in a million years, would have had the guts to do what Horace here was doing.

He deserved more then the dollar tip I gave him.

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Arizona - cactus study

1 words to the wise

We went to Arizona last November so I could show off my now-hubby-then-fiance to my extended family. It was a short trip, but long enough to take a quick trip up to Lake Pleasant for an hour or two. It's a lovely 45 minute drive north of Phoenix. The views are magnificent and it's very serene. Thought I'd share some of the photos we snapped.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Random

0 words to the wise

Is whole wheat pasta still healthy when you eat a half pound of it? Ouch my belly hurts.

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Orange flower study

2 words to the wise

I was going to blog about Arizona today but I changed my mind. 2 July's ago I went and photographed all the lovely flowers in bloom at Sarah P. Duke Gardens with my dear friend, Melanie. It was quite the learning experience for us both. I thought I'd share some of my orange flowers from that shoot. Looking at these makes me realize I need to return SOON. Flowers are such wonderful subjects to photograph. They absolutely bring out the girlie in me!

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Toast (#2) - Five Points, Durham

4 words to the wise

After a morning of shopping and the Durham APS Walk for the Animals on Saturday, I went with my closest friends to Toast for lunch. Downtown Durham was pretty empty and finding a parking spot on the street was quite easy. It was a gorgeous day. We sat outside with our canine friend, Paxton, amongst other customers with canines. I ordered the kale, ricotta salata and pickled pepper panino. It was deliciously full of kale and served piping hot. The one thing I've noted on my 2 visits to toast is that the inside is pretty warm. That's the only thing I could see to be improved upon. The staff is very friendly and the quality of the food is excellent!

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Lovey

4 words to the wise

A week from now we'll be beginning our honeymoon. Love is on the brain.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Wednesday farmer's market

0 words to the wise

I went after work last night to the Durham Farmer's Market. I have to say it was a much better experience then last Saturday. There are about 1/8 of the vendors from a typical Saturday but there's still a lot of variety and oh there were probably only 20 people there. Really a lot easier to shop quickly and get on home! The only thing I didn't see that I sometimes buy were eggs.

I bought a itty bitty chuck roast (at home marinating in beer, cayenne, garlic, salt, pepper and sage) that we'll be having tonight and a GIGANTIC head of lettuce. Oh did I mention I got a salad spinner this weekend? I figured out how to use it properly on that head of lettuce last night and it's AWESOME!!!!

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Pork tenderloin

3 words to the wise

You know what's better then a yummy dinner? Well a lot of things I suppose, but I'm particularly thrilled to have leftovers from last night's dinner for lunch today. I can't wait!

I rubbed a pork tenderloin with ground sage, garlic powder, salt, pepper and a little chili powder. I seared the sides for about 2 minutes a side on med-high heat in a pan and transfered to a baking dish. I baked along side a dish of swiss chard (same recipe I used before)at 375 for about 35 minutes.


Meanwhile I boiled about a half cup of balsamic vinegar and 2tbs of butter, couple of tbs of heavy cream, salt and cracked pepper until it reduced to less then half.

I sliced the tenderloin into 3/4 inch medallions and served on top of the swiss chard with the balsamic glaze. I also steamed some fresh sugar snap peas from the farmer's market and served it all with leftover orzo salad from the night before.

The result:

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Orzo salad

2 words to the wise

With spring here and summer on the horizon, I find myself grilling a lot and making lots of types of salads as side dishes. M doesn't like mayo so that narrows things down a bit for me. I made this last night and it was excellent. I used what I had on hand and urge you to try the same. It would also be great with the addition of artichoke hearts or some pine nuts!

Orzo salad
1/2 lb orzo
2 TB olive oil
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (diced)

1 large handful of arugula (roughly chopped)
1/2 can of black olives
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 TB garlic powder
1 TB red wine vinegar
1 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup cubed mozzarella (or more if you really want it cheesey)

Cook orzo as package instructs. Drain and return to warm pot. Mix in the olive oil and arugula. Stir until the arugula wilts some and takes on a bright green color. If the orzo and pot have cooled too much, turn on the burner for a minute or so to expedite the wilting. Add all remaining ingredients EXCEPT mozzarella. Chill. Add cheese once cooled completely.

We had this with some grilled brats (sauteed onions and peppers), grilled asparagus and homebrewed beer (west coast pale ale). We cracked our first bottles last night and it was really really tasty. Thanks Mr. Beer!!!

I had leftovers for lunch today and the salad got heated and was yummy warm too. I love the texture of orzo!

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Monday, May 12, 2008

This weekend

0 words to the wise

Between the nephew's birthday and mother's day, this weekend felt like we were moving non-stop. It started with an early trip to the Durham Farmer's Market. For 15 bucks I got a bunch of swiss chard, a bag of arugula, a bunch of turnips, and a quart of strawberries.

These turned out to be the most disappointing strawberries I've ever had. I was completely shocked. 3/4 of them were completely mushy and slimy. Pretty much only the ones on top were edible. I don't remember which farm I got them from. It's my own fault for not being more descriminating. It was so busy and crowded there and I felt rushed.

At the nephew's birthday party, we had some wonderful strawberries picked from McAdams farm in Efland though so I know good strawberries can be had! We also went to
their tee-ball game which was a blast. We spent most of the day outside on Saturday and I landed myself with a nice pre-honeymoon sunburn (again my own fault).

Sunday I made 2 frittatas to take to my mother's for brunch. My brother made buttermilk pancakes. God they were sooooo good. Real maple syrup to boot!!!


Frittata 1 was a trial of an allrecipes frittata. I followed this recipe close and I would advise not to cover the sliced potatos for 10 minutes and walk away. After about 5 minutes, I checked mine and they had burned on one side so make sure to check and flip if you
use this one. I used chopped red onions instead of green and sliced some for the top before broiling. I finished mine under the broiler because I found cooking on low for 7 minutes to not be nearly long enough. This was an extremely dense frittata but very tasty.

The other frittata I made was a variation with white button mushrooms, spinach and sundried tomatoes. I used crumbled goat cheese in the place of cheddar on this one. I didn't care for this one as much. The goat cheese was too strong. I probably used about a half a cup.

Mushroom, Spinach and Sundried Tomato Frittata

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Vote for me!!!

2 words to the wise

I was bored so I entered a bag design in the Kroger design a bag contest. It's nothing great, but most of the designs blow. Go vote for my bag if you like it here: http://www.designagreenbag.com/vote-for-designs/bag.aspx?BagId=34405. You can vote once daily!

You know you want to...

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Friday, May 9, 2008

Funny site

1 words to the wise

Listening to an NPR podcast sent me here today. Funny stuff :)

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Video of the jump

3 words to the wise

A little nervous about posting on youtube, but thought it was worth the risk of being ridiculed just to show it.

Hmm a couple of people have mentioned difficulty viewing it so try this link if you're one of em. Maybe that will work?



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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Recycling yogurt containers, etc

2 words to the wise

If you live in the great city of Durham, it may come as a surprise to you that the only plastic that is recyclable by the city are bottles. I've done a good amount of research and, yeah, those yogurt containers – they go straight in the landfill. Until now! Check out what the Museum of Life and Science is doing. And it's not just yogurt containers. It includes energy bar wrappers and drink pouches (like capri sun). Pretty cool!

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Dains Place - Ninth Street, Durham

0 words to the wise

Last night we had a far departure from the healthy, low starch food that I've been trying to make up until we honeymoon. We both were craving a good burger. Normally, we go to The Federal, but I'd heard about Dain's Place on 9th street and had been wanting to see how they compare.

This place is non-smoking which was a nice change. The 8oz. angus burgers were med-well done (we were not asked as to how we would like them cooked). I usually like a medium burger, but this really was juicy and yummy. It didn't have the nice charred crust on it like the federal burger, but was still really good. Not greasy at all and I loved the bun. Nice and soft. There are a million toppings to choose from so if you like a hyperactive burger, this is your place haha.

The service was great and despite having a table of about 6 frat boys next to us, it was relatively quiet. The beers were a little pricey by the bottle (4.75) so stick to the draft pints if you're budget-minded. I'm sure we'll be going back when burger fever strikes again and we're too lazy to pound them out ourselves!

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Adventures in skydiving

2 words to the wise

I got my dvd in the mail yesterday from and a bunch more photos Carolina Sky Sports. I haven't yet figured out how to extract the video, but here are the photos. I did a slideshow to save on load time. Just click on it for details on each slide.


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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Native drought-tolerant plants

3 words to the wise

Megrnc and I were talking about gardening this weekend and I had told her I would email her this list. I thought I'd go ahead and share it with all my blog readers (that's all 4 of you) since everyone seems to like gardening.

For the Earth week celebration over here at the NIEHS, the NC Botanical Garden did a presentation of native drought-tolerant plants. This was presented by Chris Liloia and Sally Haines from the NC Botanical Garden. This list is also available on their website.

Perennials

Sessile Blazing-star, Liatris spicata
Eastern Purple-coneflower, Echinacea purpurea
Butterfly Milkweed, Asclepias tuberosa
Fire-pink, Silene virginica
Heart-leaf skullcap, Scutellaria ovata
Mound-lily Yucca, Yucca gloriosa
Climbing aster, Ampelaster carolinianus
Wild quinine, Parthenium integrifolium
Fire-pink, Silene virginica
Aromatic American-aster, Symphyotrichum oblongifolium
Rough-leaf Goldenrod, Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks'
Wild indigo, Baptisia spp.
Savanna Rose-mallow, Hibiscus aculeatus
Downy Phlox, Phlox pilosa 'Eco Happy Traveler’
Eastern Columbine, Aquilegia canadensis
Hairy-stem Spiderwort, Tradescantia hirsuticaulis
Southern Sundrops, Oenothera fruticosa
Greater Tickseed, Coreopsis major
Black-eyed-Susan, Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii

Ground covers

Maryland Golden-aster, Chrysopsis mariana
Rosinweeds, Silphium spp.
Sunflowers, Helianthus spp.
Green-and-gold, Chrysogonum virginianum
Single-head Pussytoes, Antennaria solitaria
Pineland Phlox, Phlox nivalis
American Alumroot, Heuchera Americana
Hairy Alumroot, Heuchera villosa
Christmas Fern, Polystichum acrostichoides
Partridge-berry, Mitchella repens

Vines
Coral honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens
Carolina Jessamine, Gelsemium sempervirens

Shrubs
Virginia Sweetspire, Itea virginica
Heart’s-a’bustin’, Euonymus americanus
Maple-leaf Arrow-wood ,Viburnum acerifolium
Downy Arrow-wood, Viburnum rafinesquianum
New Jersey-tea , Ceanothus americanus

Small trees

White Fringetree, Chionanthus virginicus
Sourwood, Oxydendrum arboreum
Eastern Persimmon, Diospyros virginiana

Native grasses
Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii)
Little Bluestem (Schizacharium scoparium)
Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)
Plume grass (Saccharum giganteum)
Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans)
Hairgrass (Muhlenbergia capillaris)
River oats (Chasmanthium latifolium)

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Relleno casserole

0 words to the wise

Last night we had a pseudo-Mexican meal. Who didn't, right? Anyways I make a damn tasty enchilada casserole from time to time and in the spirit of keeping our meals low starch the next few weeks, I modified it. I thought I'd share the results.

Relleno casserole
4 large servings


Ingredients:
4 large poblano/pasilla peppers (these are very mild with the seeds and membrane removed, similar to a bell pepper but much better flavor)
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 small onion chopped
1 cup shredded cheese (your choice, I used sharp cheddar and about 1/4 cup of a mex blend)
1 small can enchilada sauce (green or red, I used red)
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Roast the chiles over high flame on the grill about 3 1/2–4 minutes per side. When they are charred, remove to a heavy duty slide-lock plastic bag and seal shut. Meanwhile, brown turkey in a
non-stick pan over medium heat. Add onions when you can't see any more pink on the outside of the meat. Season mixture with chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for another 4 minutes or until onions are soft and translucent.

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a cool water bath, gently remove the charred skins from the chiles. Remove seed membrane, seeds and stem. Don't worry if the chile tears (because it probably will) because the next step is to cut each one lengthwise into 4 strips.

In a 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish, spread about 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce. Next lay down 4 chile slices and top with 1/4 of the meat, a light sprinkling of cheese and a splash of enchilada sauce. Repeat layers and finish with a layer of sauce and cheese on the top.

Bake in preheated oven about 15 minutes. Broil (at a distance if it's a glass dish) for another 3 minutes or until the cheese is as bubbly as you like!

It really looks cheesier then it was. The sauce helps meld all the ingredients together. I let this cool for about 4 minutes while I nuked some frozen corn and plated the sides. It made it easier to serve. I recommend cutting into quarters and scooping with a spatula. It's messy, but very tasty and pretty damn healthy too!

You'll notice I actually threw in 2 corn tortillas into the middle of mine because I was a little concerned about having enough layers, but this ended up being completely unnecessary.

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Monday, May 5, 2008

American Gothic - Topsail style

1 words to the wise


Something about this reminded me of that painting hahaha.

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Sunday frittata

2 words to the wise

With the honeymoon only a few weeks away, I'm finding the idea of being in a swimsuit to be utterly depressing. A few years ago I did the South Beach diet and was moderately successful. I decided that in a last-ditch effort to slim down these next couple of weeks, I'd try to lower the starch intake. I revived a recipe I used for breakfast when on South Beach. It takes a bit of time to make, but it keeps for a week and eliminates turning to cereal or toast for breakfast. Oh and it's way more nutritious.

Sunday Frittata
Makes 8-10 servings
Ingredients:
10 eggs
1/2 c Cheese (your choice, I used sharp cheddar)
1 thawed pkg of frozen chopped spinach (sometimes I use diced sauteed zucchini)
4 oz sliced mushrooms (didn't have these, so I used 1
small chopped red bell pepper instead)
1 medium diced onion
1 tbsp olive oil (or canola)
a splash of non-fat milk

Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

After thawing the frozen spinach, squeeze out all the excess water. I always find this to be a slightly messy process, so if anyone has any great method for it, please let me know. In an iron skillet that is oven safe, saute the diced onion and mushrooms with a little salt and pepper in the olive oil over med–medhigh heat until the onions are translucent. If you're using zucchini, throw it in the mix too. Pull veggies off heat and move to a bowl to cool slightly. Keep skillet warm.

In a large bowl, whisk or beat the 10 eggs until well blended. Add about tsp. salt, some garlic and ground black pepper (the spices really are to your own taste). I use more salt when using spinach in lieu of zucchini. Mix in the splash of milk (a couple of tbs). Add all veggies and stir. You'll probably
find the spinach clumps together. Use a fork to kind of break it up.

Add egg mixture to iron skillet over medium heat. DO NOT STIR. Preheat broiler with the rack about 8 inches away. Let cook over med–medhigh heat until you see the edges start to pull away (slightly firm). Add the cheese and put in the oven under the broiler. Broil until lightly browned/cheese is bubbly. Usually takes about 4 minutes or so. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes.
Slice and serve. I made some fresh pico to add and that was a good added kick!

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Farmer's Market

0 words to the wise

Saturday morning I went to the Durham Farmer's Market. It was quite crowded so I didn't stay long. I found it a bit difficult trying to weave my way through the masses of dog leashes and strollers. I did finally get to stop by the Durham Craft Market across the street. I purchased a lovely new market bag from Megrnc. This depleted my normal $20 budget, but I still managed to get a few veggies and 2 southwestern corn empanadas from Angel's Nest Bakery. I had to circle around several times because they always had a long line. We ate these for lunch with a side salad and they very very tasty. The ingredients seemed very fresh and were perfectly seasoned. The only negative was that I thought the filling was a bit skimpy for the price. I'd say maybe a half a cup of corn and beans per empanada at a price of $3.25 a piece.

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I know why the birds sing

0 words to the wise

Awesome.
A truly unforgettable experience. I'll write more later and post more photos when I get them, but that one word sums up my skydiving experience.


M is the one standing in the plane doorway getting ready to jump. I'm the one in the blue/black helmet. Check out the face in the one shot. Terminal velocity is INTENSE!!! Carolina Sky Sports was awesome!!




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Friday, May 2, 2008

Love this...

3 words to the wise


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Gorgeous roses!

0 words to the wise

They smelled INCREDIBLE!!



Photos by Melanie Busbee

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Yummy Cake!

2 words to the wise

This cake was awesome. It was chocolate with oreo filling (and these are the cookie wafers and cream in tact) with vanilla buttercream. This was done by justbaked bakery in Surf City. Heaven!!!

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mayday

6 words to the wise

When I was in 3rd grade I had a teacher named, Mrs. Caruthers. She was one of the most influential teachers I had in my education. She taught me that being different from everyone else was okay. I will always hold her close to my heart. To say she was eccentric is an understatement. We had a shared passion for garfield (the comic not the president) and a love for lasagna. I hate that she died of cancer 3 years later and I never got to show my appreciation for what a wonderful role model she was to me.

Mrs. Caruthers had this tradition of marking the beginning of each month (for good luck) with saying, "rabbits, rabbits, rabbits" when she woke up, before saying anything else. She told our class about this and I've been doing it (trying at least) on the first of the month, every month, since 3rd grade for good luck.

This morning, the first thing I said was not "rabbits, rabbits, rabbits". It was "I love you" ( I forgot damn it).

And his response? It was "rabbits rabbits rabbits" followed by "I love you" followed by the birthday song. What an awesome start to the day.

I love being born on a day that almost always has excellent weather. It always makes for lovely celebration.

Oh and I was informed this morning that in celebration of my birth, we'd be going SKYDIVING Saturday! How cool is that?!!!! I've always wanted to go and am very, very excited. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the storm holds off until Sunday.


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