Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Roasted Leg of Lamb with Rosemary

The Foodie Daughter loves lamb, but hates having to work to find the meat. I was lucky enough to find a half leg of lamb at the store. The next step was to find a suitable recipe.

Fortunately the Internet once again came to the rescue as I found this recipe for Roast Leg of Lamb with Rosemary on

Here I have assembled:

The half leg of lamb

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons prepared Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon lemon zest

3 cloves garlic, minced or grated

1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

I often choose to grate the garlic so that there are not large pieces of garlic in the food.

Now, I would tell you that I decided that upon reading the recipe, I realized that this really did not qualify as a marinade due to the lack of an acid and so I decided to forgo the marinade part of the recipe.

The truth however, is that I neglected to read the recipe the night before, and thus could not marinate the meat overnight.

I do stand by my belief that this really does not qualify as a true marinade though.

I brushed a bit of the glaze on the meat before roasting the leg of lamb in the oven.

Since there was so much honey in the glaze, I added some water to the bottom of the baking dish so that the honey wouldn't burn so badly on the dish.

Unfortunately, it still took some serious elbow grease to clean the dish afterwards.

I ended up having to soak the dish in water with dishwasher detergent in order to loosen the burnt on bits.

The leg of lamb roasted until it reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees.

Make sure that the thermometer does not touch the bone as that would give a false reading.

After allowing the meat to rest under foil for ten minutes, I sliced the roast for dinner.

The remaining glaze was served at the table.

Roasted potatoes and Bacon Broccoli and Craisin Salad accompany the roast.

The leg of lamb was moist, tender and flavorful.

Best of all, there was no need to fight to get to the meat.

The Foodie Daughter was most pleased.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Gardens and Spiders and Fishies, Oh My!

After months of non-stop rain, to the point that we were considering building an ark, to weeks of non-stop sunshine (well, except at night, but you get the idea), the stars and planets finally aligned so that my dear husband agreed to help me plant in the garden today.

These poor plants had been sitting in pots on my front porch since the end of June. Poor, poor homeless plants.

Well, at least now they have a home. Let's just hope they survived the ordeal, shall we?

Oh, did I say that my husband would be planting them?

Silly me. It turns out that his idea of helping me was to dig the holes and then to step back while I did all the rest of the work.

And did I mention that it was a tad bit muddy today?

Or that I am sick?

Well, at least he 'helped'.

Two dogwood seedlings are in the cinder block in the foreground. If they survive, they will be planted out in the back of the yard.
If you click on the photo you will see an old push reel mower under the stairs. That mower, which is missing the roller, sadly does not work. However, it once belonged to my grandfather, from whom I inherited my can-do spirit. In addition, it was free, as no one bought it at the estate auction.

It doesn't look like much now, but hopefully these plants will take off and flourish.

In this bed are obedient plants, artemisia, blackberry lilies, peony, echinacea, mallow, yellow yarrow, pink yarrow and garden phlox.

Surprise lilies, peonies, virgin's bower and New York Iron weed grace the narrow bed to the south of the new deck.

And what is this I spy?

It is an argiope trifasciata or banded orb weaver spider that I spy.

This beauty* is quite large, with the body being an inch long (and yes, I measured it with a ruler - carefully).

*Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.
I prefer to behold spiders from a safe distance.
Let's just say that you, my dear readers, owe me.

I will admit that the webs of orb weavers are a work of art. The zig-zag pattern in the center of the web is quite distinct.

And now let's move inside to something a little bit less 'icky' if we may.

I have taken over the care and maintenance of the fish tank.
Of course, Minx loves to help me feed the fish and change their water.
The fish aren't as thrilled about that, though.

At the current time we have eight platyfish, though one is injured and not doing well, and one Chinese algae eater in the tank.
As this is a 20 gallon tank, we could safely have one more fish in the tank (figure one inch of fish per one gallon of water).

The fish tank at night.
We have a blue light illuminating the tank and several glow-in-the-dark 'plants'.

The platyfish swim up to meet me, expecting me to feed them.

Sorry, dears, but I'm just filming you now.

The fish swim at night.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Substitutions, Substitutions
Wanting to make a recipe that I had made only once before, a very long time ago, I bought what I thought I needed to make the dish. Guess I should have dug out the recipe first.
Let's review, shall we?
Here is the recipe I was attempting to make:


This easy recipe comes from an HGTV Christmas special. The pesto gives it a unique flavor. Pesto can be found in the Italian food section of the grocery store.

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
2 tbs. commercial pesto
6 thin slices honey ham
6 thin slices Swiss cheese

Spread the pesto over the sheet of puff pastry dough, top with ham slices then cheese. Start rolling the long side of the dough and continue until reaching the middle of the pastry sheet. Roll the opposite end in to meet the first roll.

Cut the roll into half-inch thick slices with a bread knife. Place the slices on a cookie sheet lined with parchment and bake at 425 degrees for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown.

And this is where I started this time. First off, I had bought whack-a-dough crescent roll dough, while I had mozzarella cheese, pesto and ham on hand at home.
Well, two out of four ingredients aren't bad...

I lightly floured the cutting board before rolling out the dough with my mini roller.

Now I was ready for the pesto.
Fuzzy green stuff in the pesto jar is definitely not good eats.
Time for substitution number three.

I chose a combination of whole grain Dijon mustard and honey mustard to replace the pesto in the recipe.

Time to start spreading.
My husband wandered through the kitchen about this time and wondered if the "M" stood for Marilyn's Munchies.
Um yeah, of course, dear.
And then he asked if it was MYOL (Make Your Own Lunch)
"What do you think I am making, dear?
Now just be patient and run along."

Then a layer of ham went on.

Followed by a layer of mozzarella cheese.

Then I rolled the thing up in a spiral, starting at one long end.
(Yet another deviation from the recipe.)

I then cut the log into 1/2" slices.

I placed the slices on a silicon mat-covered baking sheet.
This went into a preheated 375 degree oven for 12 minutes.
(Please note the temperature change from the original recipe to account for the different dough used.)

These can be served either warm or at room temperature.
The verdict of my triple substitution of a four ingredient recipe?
Four thumbs up.
What can I say?
I rock.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Random Thoughts
Yes, I do have them, despite what my dear husband might infer: thoughts, that is. And I will admit that they are often random. But I guess that wouldn't surprise my husband of 26-1/2 years. Gotta love those spouses. Or bury them (just kidding, hon! Or am I?).
Growing up, I had a friend who swore that I needed a gong so that I could signal the rest of humanity when I was suddenly changing the subject. Mindful of that, I have attempted to warn my poor audiences throughout the years when my mind suddenly jumps ship, switches gears, changes directions - well, you get the idea.

Oncidium Orchid, also known as Dancing Ladies.

This is the first time this orchid has bloomed for me since I bought it several years ago.

Guess I should have ignored it years ago?


My Serrano chilies are doing well in their pot out on the deck. Now I need to find something to do with them. Since my family is a bit timid with the spicy flavors, I opted to preserve most of the chilies. I found this web site that showed how to dry the chilies. This ought to be fun. And I can add to the fun, er twine, as the season progresses.


As you may recall, the Foodie Daughter has been in charge of laundry for her old high school football teams' jerseys (and yes, that is correct, as there is the varsity team, the junior varsity team and the freshman team). Any way you slice it, that amounts to a lot of laundry.

I promised the daughter that I would share my patented secret laundry stain removal system.

**Drum roll, please**

It consists of one part Clorox2(tm) and one part Ivory(tm) dish soap plus as hot of water as the fabric (and you) can stand. Make sure to completely cover the clothing in the water. Mix in and let soak for as long as possible (at least an hour). Rinse before washing in the washing machine as usual. Please note that you will not likely see an improvement in the stain after soaking. Hopefully, the stain will release after washing, though. If not, try, try again. This seems to work best with organic stains, but don't be afraid to try this on other stains.

Dozens of football uniforms can't be wrong.

Dozens of football uniforms each week. Week after week. When does football season end? And why does a woman with a severe cold still gag when confronted with piles of this smelly stuff? Has the U.S. military considered using this stuff for chemical warfare? Or is that against the Geneva Convention?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pizza Night
Once again the Foodie Daughter asked me to make a special dish for dinner. She asked that I make a stuffed crust pizza. Well, I raised her bet and decided to make Rosie Hawthorne's Caesar Salad to go with the pizza. I also opted to follow Rosie's advice for making pizza, but more on that later.

My mise en place for Caesar Salad Dressing:
5 cloves garlic
2 lemons
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 egg
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (Rosie calls for 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup Extra virgin olive oil, more or less

I coddled the egg by bringing some water to a boil and then adding the egg to the water and letting it sit in the water for one minute.

The minced garlic, juiced lemons, anchovy paste (1/2 teaspoon equals 2 anchovy fillets), Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard were mixed together. Then the coddled egg was whisked in. Finally the olive oil was whisked in before the grated Parmesan cheese was stirred in the dressing.
Then it was time to begin working on the pizza dough. Despite Rosie Hawthorne's assurances that bread making is not that difficult, I think the real problem that the rest of us mere mortals have with the process is that one never knows just how much flour one will need for the same recipe. One day 2 cups might be all that is needed while another day 3-1/2 cups might be required. This is scary stuff for novice bread makers.

At any rate, I started with one of Rosie's recipes for pizza dough.
Here I have:
1 cup warm water,
1 egg
1 teaspoon sugar
1 package yeast
1 teaspoon salt
black pepper, optional
olive oil
2-1/2 cups flour, more or less

I added the yeast and sugar to the warm water and allowed that to proof for a while.

Once the yeast had proofed, I added the egg and mixed that in.

I then began stirring in the flour, 1/2 cup at a time. And stirring and stirring until I had gone through the entire 2-1/2 cups and the mixture was still more batter than dough.

Well, Rosie said that the amount of flour was just a starting point. Let's hope she's right.
I wonder, though. Does Rosie ever end up with club hand while kneading the dough?

Finally after adding in perhaps another 1-1/2 cups of flour,
I had reached that wondrous state of elasticity. Well, the dough had, not me.

I placed the dough in an oiled bowl and turned the dough to coat with oil.

I covered the bowl with plastic wrap before using Rosie's tip of wetting a towel and nuking the towel in the microwave before covering the bowl with the hot towel.
This went into the microwave for about an hour or until the dough had doubled in size.

That looks about right.

I floured my fist before punching down the dough.

I then kneaded this a bit more and decided that I would have enough dough to make some bread sticks to go along with the pizza.

Yeah, something like that.

I decided to knead some dried Herbes de Provence and grated Parmesan cheese into the bread stick dough.

That was ridiculously easy.

The Foodie Daughter wandered in and showed me a copy-cat recipe for Pizza Hut's bread sticks. Please, Mom, will you make this topping for the bread sticks? Yes, dear.
The ingredients are:
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/4 cup olive oil, to coat bread sticks

The Foodie Daughter mixed together the ingredients for the topping.

I cut the bread sticks apart and then coated them with olive oil and the seasoning mix.

I followed Rosie's advice to push the dough a bit then let it rest. Luckily, I had enough other jobs going on that I was too busy to fuss over the dough.

The dough was finally stretched out and I had cut some mozzarella for the crust. I then folded the crust over the cheese slices.

I rubbed some olive oil over the crust and poked holes in the crust with a fork.

Then the Foodie Daughter decided that the crust needed some of the seasoning mix.
I baked the crust in a 425 degree oven for 7 minutes before pulling it out so the toppings could be applied.
In the meantime, the bread sticks baked in the oven until they were done. I pulled the bread sticks out of the oven when they smelled done.

First up was the tomato sauce. I used a jarred sauce that I had on hand.

Shredded mozzarella, diced cooked ham, chopped cooked bacon and chopped onion went on next.

Then more mozzarella covered that. Finally, pepperoni that was placed on a paper towel and cooked in the microwave for 30 seconds to remove some of the grease topped the pizza (another patented Rosie tip). This went back into the oven to finish baking.

And just in time as the bread sticks were done.

Melted butter and warm tomato sauce accompanied the bread sticks.

A classic Caesar salad with Romaine lettuce and homemade rye bread croutons rounded out the meal.

I think this is just what the Foodie Daughter ordered. Too bad she doesn't tip, though.
Many thanks to Rosie Hawthorne for her recipes and directions on her blog, Kitchens are Monkey Business. I couldn't have done this without her. And if not for her wise advice, I most certainly would have been panicking when the dough began eating all that flour.