Tuesday, March 26, 2013

In Support of Marriage Equality

Today, the US Supreme Court is hearing arguments on whether or not Marriage Equality is a Constitutional Right.  I support marriage equality. Too many bright, vibrant lives have been cut short by discrimination and violence against homosexuals: in 2011, "anti-gay" murders reached an all-time high in the United States. Victims like Matthew Shepard (who was brutally murdered) and Tyler Clementi (who committed suicide after being outed and humiliated) are no longer here to speak for themselves.  It's time to stand up for tolerance and equality.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Matzoh Ball Soup!

I made Matzoh Ball Soup for the first time today, in honor of Passover.  No, it's not a holiday I celebrate personally, but I saw the instant mix in the store, and it was cold and dreary outside, and I thought, "Why not?"

Here's the mix I used....

and here's the finished product...

It was delicious!  The box says "makes 9 to 12 matzoh balls" but if you're doing it correctly, you'll end up with 12.  Don't make them any larger than 1" round (like a ping pong ball) because they double in size when you cook them.  In addition to the mix, you'll need two eggs and some vegetable oil.  I also sprinkled some dried parsley into the soup when it was done to add a splash of color.  It's basically instant chicken broth with dumplings, but it was just the thing to warm me up on a chilly Spring night. Definitely worth giving this mix a try. I've made other instant products by Manischewitz (potato latkes, in particular) and I've always had great results.

Passover 2013

I'm not Jewish, but that didn't stop me from taking part in the Passover holiday preparations this year. My youngest daughter went to a Seder tonight, so I got a recipe from a friend for Peach Kugel.  I've only had kugel made with egg noodles, not matzoh farfel, so the texture was different from what I was used to, but the end result was still delicious. It's similar to bread pudding, and tastes best when it's warmed up (I put a little Redi-Whip whipped cream on top--not exactly kosher, but delicious nevertheless).

Here's the recipe:

Peach Kugel for Passover 
1 lb farfel
1/2 lb margarine or butter, melted
7 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
large can of sliced peaches
sugar and cinnamon for dusting

In a colander or strainer, pour boiling water over the farfel. Drain well and put into a bowl. Add the melted butter and mix well. Beat the eggs and then add to the farfel mixture, mixing well to combine.  Add the vanilla, salt and sugar and mix well again.  Strain the peaches and add the liquid to the farfel mixture.  Put half of the farfel mixture into a well-greased rectangular pan, then arrange half of the sliced peaches in rows on top.  Sprinkle with some sugar and cinnamon, then add the rest of the farfel mixture and top with the remaining peach slices.  Sprinkle the top with some sugar and cinnamon.  Bake for 1 hour at 375 degrees Farenheit.  Serve warm.

This is what the container of farfel looks like, fyi: it's really just crumbled up Matzoh.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Acapellapalooza 2013

My daughter is in an acapella group at college.  Recently, they had a big concert featuring all of the acapella groups on campus, and the videos are up on YouTube.  I couldn't make it there for this performance, but these kids are so talented, I just had to share:

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Started my day with this gorgeous sunrise.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Treasures from Two Buttons

One of the two gold dragons guarding the entrance 
Ever since I found out that Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love has a store in Frenchtown, New Jersey, I've wanted to drive out there to check it out. The store is filled with things that she and her husband have collected during their travels around the world, with a particular emphasis on Indonesia and India.

Today, I finally got there, and I was not disappointed.

The store is filled with so many things, it would be impossible to list them all. I saw statues of Hindu gods and goddesses, including Buddha, Ganesha, Shiva, and Vishnu.  There were elephant statues of all sizes, some made of metal and others carved of wood. There are colorful Thai robes, pashmina and silk scarves, silk men's ties, and handmade purses. So much beautiful jewelry: beaded and pearl bracelets, necklaces, prayer beads, and glass earrings.  The walls are adorned with decorative mirrors and paintings, and throughout the store you'll find weathered wood furniture and carvings. I also saw ceramic bowls, stone fossils, colorful geodes, hand woven placemats, Tibetan prayer flags and Tibetan singing bowls that come with a colorful, padded cushion. Brightly colored doorknobs and drawer pulls, tin signs, hand-held fans, and all of Elizabeth Gilbert's books hand-signed by the author. There were items that cost thousands of dollars, and items as inexpensive as 50 cents apiece.

Here are the things I bought today, from top to bottom, right to left: a copper Sakyamuni Buddhi head with a beautiful natural patina; Tingshaws (pairs of hanging cymbals used in Buddhist ceremonies); a piece of the Tunguska meteorite that fell to Earth in Siberia in 1908; a hand-carving of a lizard in a piece of driftwood; a piece of Bismuth crystal, with its unique stair-step pattern and rainbow irridescence; a tiny pig figurine carved out of glittery goldstone; a wooden cross in a whitewash finish.




There was so much there, I could have spent at least another hour looking through it all. Two Buttons does have a limited number of items available for purchase online. I ordered this Ganesha pendant necklace a few months ago:

Such a cool store, filled with interesting and unique items from the other side of the world. Next time, I'm going to plan to stay in Frenchtown for the day, and visit some of the quaint antique shops and cafes I saw as I drove through. Here are a few more photos from the shop:
Statue just inside the shop

A massive gargoyle statue

Friday, March 8, 2013


Hopefully this is our LAST big snowstorm of the season.

My daughter's snowman to mark the occasion:

Monday, March 4, 2013

Healthy Egg, Ham & Cheese? Yes!

A friend recently gave me a recipe for low-calorie "egg muffins", and they're my new favorite thing to have for breakfast.  They're easy to make, and much tastier than the chewy, chemical-filled frozen breakfast options at the grocery store.  You can bake a bunch of them ahead of time and refrigerate (or even freeze) them for a quick, healthy breakfast.

Use whatever vegetables you enjoy; I used zucchini and onions this time because that's what I had on hand, but mushrooms, asparagus, and shredded carrots would work well, too. I'm going to list the specific, name-brand ingredients that I used, so that you can duplicate this recipe exactly. The calorie counts and other nutritional info given at the end are for the recipe as written. So keep in mind, if you make product substitutes (like real eggs or full-fat cheese), the nutritional info will vary from what is listed below. Switching up the veggies won't make much difference on the calorie count, so feel free to get creative with that.

Egg, Ham & Cheese Breakfast Muffins

Pam non-stick cooking spray
Metal muffin tin pans (6 muffins each)
1/2 cup Sargento Reduced Fat 4 Cheese Mexican Shredded Cheese
6 oz (3 slices with rind cut off) Smithfield Sliced Honey Cured Boneless Ham, diced small
1/2 of a small zucchini, diced
1/2 small onion, diced
1 1/2 cups Egg Beaters Original

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Spray the muffin tin with Pam and set aside (don't use paper cupcake liners!). In a small bowl, combine the shredded cheese, ham, zucchini & onion. Spoon the mixture directly into the six muffin cups, dividing evenly (about 2 heaping TBS per muffin). Add 2 TBS of Egg Beaters to each muffin cup, which is just enough to cover the veggie/cheese mixture and bind it all together.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly, then run a butter knife along the edges to loosen the muffins and pop them out onto a wire rack.  You can eat them immediately or let them cool completely and refrigerate for later. Makes 12 muffins.

Nutritional info per muffin: 50 calories, 1.4 g fat, 1.3g carb, 7g protein, 0.8g sugar.

Even if you eat 6 of these, you're still looking at a 300 calorie breakfast. I like to switch things up: sometimes I'll have two of the egg muffins on a toasted English Muffin, for a hearty and satisfying 210 calorie breakfast. Or, on days when I want to stay more low-carb, I'll eat 4 of them and call it a day.  These keep for about a week in the fridge, so you can enjoy them over the course of several days. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Leap and the Net Will Appear

"I must be willing to give up what I am 
in order to become what I will be."
--Albert Einstein