Monday, November 26, 2007

Recovering from Thanksgiving and Cyber-Monday

I think it will take a week to recover from last week! lots of family, lots of cooking and lots of shopping and crowds! I think today I'll join the growing trend of Cyber Monday shopping. I am not a big crowded mall person and will gladly finish my Christmas list from my desk chair.

I did try to get a few Black Friday deals, but after getting up and out at 5 am I was in no mood to wait in a block-long line to get into Toys-R-us. My brother did though and after 35 min. in line he got in only to find that they were out of everything he went for...

I gave up at around 8 am and went home to put up the tree with the kiddos. I always say "never again", but somehow my memory lapses each year.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Pralines and pecans...

It's always a great day for pralines! Check out the recipe here

Living through a kitchen renovation....some uncalculated costs

We recently did a full kitchen renovation with new flooring, cabinets, granite,
copper sink, etc. I should have been prepared, but when you're working on your own home you see things a little differently. Besides removing the old and installing the new stuff, we also moved a wall to make the kitchen open to a family room and extended a doorway to make a larger opening to the dining room. These two things sound simple on paper, but made an already long process take even longer. I didn't realize moving a wall meant reinforcing the beams in the attic, moving electrical, patching and retexturing the ceiling and reframing behind the cabinets. Also, widening a doorway means repainting the other side, reframing the door, repairing moulding, etc. Another thing to be prepared for is that things will often come damaged, scratched, need to be modified and generally make you pull your hair out!

This reno took about 3 months total and we more or less stayed within budget. However, some things we forgot to consider are the inconvenience of living with drywall dust (having plastic from ceiling to floor did little to help), wasting so many paper cups/plates/utensils because there was no kitchen sink hooked up, and eating out for almost every meal for 3 months! The latter of which added a hefty amount that was not in the budget.

In the end, it was definitely worth it, but I don't want to renovate anything for quite awhile! I love my copper sink and the extra counter space. My kids also hate eating out now so I guess it's a good thing we have our new kitchen...
kitchen renovation before
before/during renovation

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veteran's Day Salute

Hats off to all of our Veterans and many thanks for your courage and love for our country!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Thoughts of is a shrimp etouffee recipe kind of day

When the weather gets cooler, I really get in the mood for richer foods and soups. Luckily, living in the New Orleans area has its advantages. There are great restaurants everywhere! Today is a stay-inside kind of day so I'll do my own shrimp etouffee and rice. You can use frozen shrimp for this recipe and I do if I don't feel like running to the store to get fresh ones, but you really need the head fat (I know, gross) to make the full flavor. Here's a copy of the recipe if anyone feels adventurous...

shrimp etouffee recipe

Shrimp or Crawfish Etouffee
1 POUND peeled shrimp tails(FRESH OR FROZEN)(can also use crawfish tails instead of shrimp)
reserve 2tbls head fat (totally optional)
3 TABLESPOONS all-purpose flour
ONE container diced mixed seasoning or 1 stalk finely chopped celery, 1 medium onion finely chopped, 1 clove garlic finely chopped and 3 green onion stalks finely chopped
3 TABLESPOONS chopped fresh parsley or 1 tbls dried parsley for garnish
1 1/2 CUPS water, seafood or veggi stock
2 1/2 TEASPOONS lemon juice
1/2 TEASPOON salt
1/4 TEASPOON fresh ground pepper or cajun seasoning
3 DASHES hot red pepper sauce
3 CUPS cooked white rice
Using a 3 qt saucepan, heat the butter over medium-high heat until butter is melted and bubbly. Reduce heat to medium and add the flour. Make sure to STIR constantly or the roux will burn. Keep stirring and cook this flour/butter combination for about 6-8 minutes until it is thick and caramel in color. Next, add the mixed seasoning or onion/green onion/celery/garlic and stir constantly for about 6 more minutes or until they become soft and opaque. Stir in the shrimp tails, head fat(optional), salt, pepper, pepper sauce, lemon juice, water or stock and heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered stirring frequently until the shrimp tails are bright pink and white and fully cooked. Garnish with parsley and serve over rice. Serve with crusty french bread for dipping and spicy bread and butter pickles or pickled okra. This makes such a great "welcome to fall" treat!

I'm looking for a great minestrone recipe so if you know of one and you'd like to pass it along I'd be really grateful!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thoughts on becoming greener or going green confusion

I've been trying lately (as many people have been) to make a few changes that are more eco-friendly. It seems today that you see companies greening up everywhere, but it gets a little overwhelming trying to find info.

Let's see, I switched all of my light bulbs to fluorescent (saved 45.00 on my subsequent bill), went with bamboo flooring, energy star appliances, buy organic food, and low voc paints. I know it's baby steps, but even "greenish" helps, right?

The problem I'm having with trying to further my green experience is either the item I want to change to is hard to come by (denim eco-friendly insulation) or the cost is way out of the ballpark for normal consumers (organic mattress, bedding, etc). Why is the cost still so high on this stuff when people have been into organics for years? I guess that's one good thing about all of the mainstreaming of "going green"; maybe it will bring the supply of reasonably priced eco-friendly goods down to prices that normal humans can pay. I think a big opportunity was missed down here in New Orleans because we all want to rebuild smarter and greener but either the availability wasn't there or the cost astronomical.

I'm all for less chemicals around my family, less carbon emissions and more natural goods, but where is the outcry from us demanding companies go green en mass so that everyday joes can afford to join the club? Like I said, it's very confusing and for now I'm just "greenish".