Category Archives: food

Growing Tomatoes Again


This time from seeds. They look big in this photo but they’re only about and inch tall.

These are Cherry Roma Tomatoes. I found them at

Here is the description from the Web site:

Cherry Roma Tomato
Incredibly heavy set of 1″ long plum-shaped fruits. Addictive sweet-spicy flavor, great fresh or dried. Fruits hold well for extended periods. Similar in appearance to grocery store grape tomatoes, but actually has good flavor!

Packet of 50 seeds $2.75

I’m also growing some flowers, but they are much, much smaller at this point. If I’m successful I’ll take a pictures of them when they bloom.

Have you planted anything this year?

World Nutella Day – Thursday February 5, 2009


Thanks to bleeding espresso I am ready to celebrate World Nutella Day.

I like its chocolatey hazelnut goodness spread thinly on toast. But there are all kinds of recipes for things you can do with Nutella.

Check out these sites for more information:

bleeding espresso
Ms. Advertures in Italy
At Home in Rome


Enjoy Nutella today.

In NYC – Day 1


Just arrived today and the first thing I did was call up an old friend and meet at my favorite Irish Pub.

I haven’t been in that place in 9 years. So strange how familar and yet how different everything seems to me.

I had fish and chips and two glorious pints of Guinness.

Big day tomorrow. Talk to you then.

Cure for Chocoholism

chocolate syrup

Remember when I said I was making truffles.

Well, this Christmas I made loads of truffles and boxed them up as gifts. My entire house was filled with the scent of chocolate. This sounds like a bonus, doesn’t it?

Well, if you ever need a break from chocolate, try making tons of it. You end up not being able to stand the cloying smell.

I’m sure I’ll get over it soon enough. But right now, I can’t even think about eating a piece of candy.

Why I Don’t Eat Calamari

Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus

I once saw a documentary about the intelligence of squids. It showed squids using tools to hunt and to hammer open shells. It also showed a squid faking out a shrimp who swam into a hollow rock. The squid put one of his tentacles around the other side and conned the little guy into swimming out the other side to be caught.

Maru over at WTF Is It Now posted this story about a cheeky octopus in an aquarium in Germany.

Otto the Octopus figured out how to short circuit the light above his tank at night. For a bit of fun, he juggles the hermit crabs that share his home. Sometimes, he throws rocks at the glass. He even redecorated his place when he got bored with his surroundings.

Marine biologist conducting a census of the sea, discovered that octopuses have their own underwater expressway in the Antartic.

Squid and Octopus are highly intelligent creatures. Please don’t dip them in marinara sauce at TGI Fridays.

The Great Pumpkin Wants To Know

Be Prepared

First Aid Kit

I attended a seminar today about Emergency Preparedness by the Red Cross. It’s a subject I’ve never really given any thought. I realized that I don’t even know where my flashlight is, and if I could find it, I’m sure the batteries are dead.

Here are some tips I learned today:

  • bottled water in plastic only keeps for a couple of months.
  • candles are not the preferred light source during an emergency because of the fire hazard, but also because gas mains could be broken.
  • statisics say that everyone will choke at least once before the age of 50.
  • as we learned from Katrina, emergency help could take a full week to arrive.

With these things in mind, you should have an emergency kit that can last 7 days.

Some things your kit should include:

  • one gallon of water per person per day (for drinking, hygiene, cooking)
  • first aid kit
  • flashlight with extra batteries or one that recharges through motion
  • non-perishable food that requires no refrigeration or preparation
  • non-electric can opener
  • can of sterno to heat food
  • medications (prescription and non-prescription)
  • personal hygiene items (toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, contact lens supplies, feminine supplies)
  • plastic garbage bags with ties (for personal sanitation)

Other ways to be prepared:

  • take a first aid course
  • learn CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver
  • plan an emergency escape route like a fire drill
  • keep a smaller emergency kit in your car
  • backup personal records to another location (insurance, mortgage, banking, identification, medical records, emergency contact info) It could be a while before you can prove you are you.

Some helpful Web sites:

OMG Champagne Truffles

Grace Magazine Truffles

I’ve been learning to make candy. Actually, I’ve been teaching myself. I bought a few books on the subject. One in particular concentrates on chocolate truffles. I dove into the deep end and made bittersweet chocolate champagne truffles.

It was a lot easier than I thought. I’d like to share the recipe with you.


  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • another 10 oz. of chocolate for melting later
  • 3 tablespoons of champagne or sparkling wine

Instructions and Tips:

Day 1

  • Chop the chocolate as finely as possible. Some people use a knife. I’m impatient and I used my food processor. Put into a mixing bowl.
  • Heat the cream over a medium flame until it just simmers.
  • Remove from heat and pour over the ground chocolate. Be sure all of the chocolate is covered by the cream.
  • Cover the bowl and leave sit for 5 minutes.
  • Remove cover and stir the mixture until you’re sure all of the chocolate is melted. It should look lovely and glossy. This is ganache.
  • Add the champagne and stir again until well blended.
  • Let cool to room temperature. It will probably be pretty cool now anyway after all of the stirring.
  • Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Wait about 4 hours.
  • Prepare a cookie sheet or flat pan by covering it with foil, making sure it is smooth.
  • Scoop out ganache and roll into 3/4 inch balls. Coat your hands in cocoa powder so they don’t stick. I used a melon baller to scoop out consistent-sized balls. Line them up on the baking sheet.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Day 2

  • You need to temper the remaining 10 oz. of chocolate. I used a double boiler but you can also do this in the microwave. But be careful not to overheat the chocolate.
  • Bring a small amount of water to boil. Remove from heat. Put about 6-8 oz. of the chocolate in a metal bowl and sit on top of the hot water. I didn’t bother chopping this chocolate. I broke it into small pieces. It will slowly melt.
  • Prepare another cookie sheet with foil.
  • Remove from the double boiler. Put it the remaining chocolate. It will melt in the hot chocolate.
  • Stir until it cools slightly.
  • Heat the water again. Remove from the stove. And place the metal bowl on top again.
  • Remove the ganache balls from the fridge. Dip each one in the melted chocolate to coat.
  • You can use a fork but it’s easier if you have a plastic chocolate dipping spoon. You can get them at any craft store.
  • Tap off the excess chocolate. Try to coat them as thinly as possible. Line them up on the tray and let the chocolate harden.
  • Remove from the tray and put into little foil or paper cups.
  • At the candy department at my local craft store, I bought gold dust to decorate the tops. It’s make of corn starch and is edible. It adds a nice rich touch.

Be careful when you eat them as you may faint from sheer pleasure.

Note: The outcome depends on the quality of chocolate you use in the recipe. I used 70% dark chocolate from Scharffen Berger. It’s an American company based in Northern California. It’s the finest chocolate I’ve ever tasted.

Stuffed Peppers

Green Peppers

In my search for vegetarian meals, I’ve adjusted a recipe that my mother used to make: stuffed peppers. She would fill green peppers with a mix of rice and ground beef. I substituted the beef for cannelloni beans and I used brown rice instead of white. The meal came out really well, so I thought I’d share it with you.

Stuffed Peppers

4 large green peppers
1 can of cannellini beans
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 Tbsp seasoned bread crumbs

Clean out center of green peppers and rinse. Par-boil until softened but still firm. Alternate adding layers of cooked brown rice and cannellini beans. Top with bread crumbs to seal. Spray a pyrex dish with non-stick cooking spray. Place the four peppers standing up. Cook uncovered in 400-degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until the tops start to turn brown. Serve with marinara sauce. Serves 2.

-Select peppers that have an even bottom so they will stand up in the pan.
-I heat leftover spaghetti sauce to pour over the peppers after I remove them from the oven.

Easiest Cappuccino Ever

Bialetti Mukka Express

I love to have a cappuccino in the morning or afternoon or after dinner or any time really.

It’s easy when you’re in a restaurant or out and about to have someone else make it for you. But when you’re at home, you have to get the foam just right, then you have to clean it up before it gets all gunky.

Well, I found a product that makes it super easy, the Bialetti Mukka Express. I was skeptical at first but then I tried it and it really works. And it’s easy to clean, too.

You have to follow the instructions to the letter, but they are simple, and it makes two cups of cappuccino or one modern-day sized one. There are also instructions for making a latte.

You can find the Mukka Express in places like William Sonoma or Target, but I bought mine directly from the Bialetti Web site. Shipping was free and my Mukka Express arrived in a couple of days with a free 8 oz. package of ground espresso coffee.

I bought the polished silver maker, but you can also get a cute cow print, or a pink one that sends part of the proceeds to benefit the National Breast Cancer Foundation

So easy and so delicious. Highly recommended.