Saturday, January 30, 2010

Out of the Frying Pan!

My husband and I have become huge fans of a technique for cooking meat. It is super easy, fast, and yummy! The basic concept is that you sear what ever cut of meat you have on one side for 3-5 minutes in coconut oil or other high heat cooking oil on medium high heat on the stove until nicely browned. Next place the meat in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes per inch of thickness. While the meat is cooking up in the oven prepare a pan sauce to accompany the cut of meat. This method will work with any cut of meat, poultry, beef, pork, fish, whatever. It can be varied also by adding any herbs and spices to the meat prior to cooking.

Here is one we did recently with beef...

We choose some very nice 100% grass fed tenderloin steaks from our local co-op. (When possible choose grass fed beef, it is so much healthier for you and has a depth of flavors you won't find from grain fed beef.) We then opted for clarified butter instead of coconut oil. Please note this is not butter from the refrigerator you must prepare the butter first so it will not burn at the high temperatures.

Clarified butter:
Heat butter in a pan at medium heat until the solids turn light brown and it stops bubbling.
Pour through a seive directly into an oven proof frying pan.
Discard the solids leftover.

Wrap each steak with bacon and sprinkle with a mixture of spices. This particular time we chose rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper but my husband chooses different spices everytime.

Cook for 3-5 minutes on one side until nicely browned. Make sure the pan is already hot so you get a nice satisfing sizzle when you add the steaks. Brush the steaks with the butter from the pan while they are searing.

Flip the steaks and move immediately to the 450 oven and roast for 7-10 minutes for medium rare for 1 1/2 inches of thickness.

Take out of oven and ENJOY! We opted not to make a pan sauce and instead simply sprinkled each with a little stilton cheese.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Nine Patch

I am taking a beginning quilting class. In class we made a nine patch block and a rail block. My rail block did not turn out well. Let's just say piecing quilt blocks is not as easy as it looks and that darn 1/4 inch seam is going to be the death of me.

Last night I was practicing sewing a 1/4 inch seam and was gaining more confindence with it. I decided to go ahead and try the nine patch challenge block, the chain block . (For each block we do in class we have one challenge block to try at home as homework.) I was able to get all the pieces cut and started piecing it together. However after ripping out a seam four times because my darn sewing machine decided it wouldn't feed straight (I'm blaming the machine and excusing any human error!) I decided to call it a night.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Two Thousand and Ten Resolutions, Goals, and Dreams!

This year I am full of New Year's Resolution ideas. The trick will be in accomplishing them all. And not being too hard on myself for not being able to accomplish everything at once.

1. Domesticity! In 2010 I would like to continue and expand my homemaker lifestyle by cooking more, doing some sewing/quilting each, learning crochet, keeping my house clean and tidy.

  • Cooking: By the end of the year I'd like to be cooking five nights a week at home with a good meal planning system. Taking baby steps however and going with 1-2 nights a week to start. Also I'd like bake more bread. I got this great book for Christmas and am anxious to try it out.
  • Sewing/Quilting: I am taking a two quilting classes this quarter and hope to improve on my sewing skills as well. I have so many projects in my head that I'd like to do. Here's a few... make a duvet cover for our bed, a kitchen floor mat, a bath mat, embroider a shower curtain, make a lap quilt, plus many birthday gift ideas I have.
  • Learning Crochet: My mother-in-law and sister-in-law showed me how to crochet over the holidays. I love it. Right now I'm working on remembering all they showed me and searching for a good beginner project. I'm in love with granny squares actually so maybe it will be something utilizing those.
  • Cleaning/Organizing: Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook has become my go-to guide for cleaning house along with The Naturally Clean Home. I'd love to have a ritual cleaning routine established. This year I'd also like to organize all my closets... linen, utility, laundry room cabinets, bedroom closets, and pantry. And finally organize that pesky garage. Here's hoping!
2. Personal Enrichment
  • Visiting local museums: I have lived here in the Seattle area for almost 3 years and have yet to go to the Seattle Art Museum or the Pacific Science Center among others. This needs to be remedied STAT!
  • Playing more board games: We own a ton of board games and hardly ever play them. Tomorrow is board game night with another couple and I'm so excited!
  • Taking more walks: be it in my own neighborhood or along some hiking trial. I love walking, being out listening to nature.
  • Visiting the National Parks: I am enamored with the PBS National Parks series as I've mentioned earlier and I'm excited to visit the National Parks in this area. Besides not visiting the local museums I've yet to go to Mt. Rainer National Park. (Shh.. don't tell anyone.)
  • Reading the Classics: See my previous post on this. And of course I did think of a few others. Thank you for your many suggestions. I might change Jane Austen's Emma to Persuasion after hearing your comments.
  • Flute Lessons: From fifth grade through my senior year in high school I played the flute but haven't played since then. I learned entirely through the public school system never having private lessons. Now every Tuesday afternoon is my lesson. I'm hoping to get a vintage Haynes flute restored that was gifted to my husband and I and be able to play that beautifully!
  • Writing: Be it journaling, blogging, or poetry. But to continue that creative outlet of the written word. It is so powerful.
  • Local theatre/ballet: To support the local arts and artists.
3. Being Respectful! This is probably the MOST important of all the resolutions to me.
  • TO MYSELF! So often I find myself not really doing the things I want to do or accomplishing the goals I set out for myself. Disrespecting my personal needs and desires because... because why? I'm too lazy, depressed, afraid. I hold myself back and watch life pass me by instead of experiencing it. Well this year I am approaching thirty and am beginning to think its time to start finding myself and living life.
  • To my husband: There are times in these first few years of marriage that I'll admit I haven't shown my husband the utmost respect he deserves. I really want to continue to build our relationship, filling it with lots of love, admiration, and RESPECT!
4. Showing Passion!
I'd liked that Tabitha created a little motto for her 2010 Resolutions so here's mine....
In past I have felt there have been times when I've been evading. Evading joy. But I want to turn it around. Stop evading and start engaging!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Reading the Classics and a few others...

Photograph: "Treasured Books" by 1bluecanoe

One of my New Years resolutions is to read more classics. (More to come on my other New Years resolutions later.) Beginning to diminsh the long list of books on my ever expanding reading list would be a nice accomplishment for this year.

Here are a few I'd like to read: (please know that these are in no particular order.)
That is one per month at least. I know I have others but my mind is drawing a blank at the moment.
Let me know if you have any suggestions for me and I'll add them to my growing list!

Friday, January 8, 2010

The National Parks: America's Best Idea

My parents got us this beautiful documentary for Christmas and my husband and I have been loving every minute of it. There is so much history and beauty within and around each of these amazing parks. It has excited my interest in visiting many of them. Especially the ones that are in my own backyard!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Jane Eyre

The first time I read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte was about ten years ago. I remember being so angry with Mr. Rochester and Jane about half way through the book, when Jane leaves Thornfield, that I shoved the book under the couch and refused to read it for over a week. This time however was different.

In my maturity I held a new appreciation for both these characters and understood their actions. The passion Jane and Mr. Rochester have for each other touched me deeply. The ending is so sweet and lovely. Yet what struck me this time through is that I kept expecting Jane to cower in the corner, to succumb to her circumstances but she doesn't. Jane remains obedient, gentle, but still strong and independent. When Jane is facing heartbreak, loss she shows triumph...

"Who in the world cares for you?... I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself."

Jane Eyre goes on the shelf as one of my all time favorite books. One to be read again and again.