Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Seabrook's Chicken Tenders

AYUP! And what, might you ask is Ayup? Of course, it's an all-purpose word that Yorkshire folk use to say "hi, what's happening?", "what are you doing?", "how's the family?", "where are you going?", etc.

Today's recipe is all about the goodness of Yorkshire's own, Seabrook Potato Crisps, or as they are affectionately known, Seabrooks. Seabrooks are produced in the Yorkshire town of Bradford (where the Hubs and 1 tied the knot, so they gotta be great, no?) and according to the Hubs, are the best crisps in all of England...and that is saying a lot, considering there are some three kazillion varities of potato snacky goodness. Seabrooks alone makes some twenty different varieties ranging from Smoky Bacon, to Prawn Cocktail, Chicken & Stuffing, Cream Cheese & Chives to their newer hot and spicy wasabi assortment.

The thing about Seabrooks is that they aren't widely available. Even in the UK, they are difficult to find in the southern counties. And forget trying to find them in the states. When we went to England last Christmas, the Hubs decided he would stock up and bring two cases back with us and he would enjoy them VERY sparingly. Well, he did great on the sparingly part, usually only partaking of a packet during an episode of Dr. Who or some other British TV program he'd downloaded. Well, this was good as far as having the crisps last a long time, but not so good for the quality of the crisps, which don't have a bunch of preservative additives and well, they lost a bit of their crunchy ooomph.

Sooooooo, I thought....what can I do with some of these crisps and I came up with the idea to use them as a breadcrumb-like coating for baked chicken tenders. I rummaged through the Hubs stash of crisps to come up with a variety that would go with the chicken. For example, I thought the Bacon & Brown Sauce, Tomato Ketchup, Beefy, and Sea Salt and Vinegar varities weren't quite right. So I settled on Cheese & Onion. The "recipe" follows...

Ingredients (approximate measures since I didn't use any measuring cups or spoons)
1 lb chicken tenders
2 eggs
2 tbsp milk
2 cups (or 4 packets) crushed Seabrooks crisps
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp parsley flakes
Black pepper to taste

I put the crisps into a plastic bag and crushed them into tiny pieces. I don't think it's necessary to grind them up or pulverize them in a blender. The bigger pieces will make for a crunchier coating, the same way panko bread crumbs make a crunchier coating over finer ground bread crumbs.

This next picture really is for my father-in-law, who would be glad to know we are eating free-range, no antibiotic, no hormone, organic chicken, but he'd be even more thrilled that I spied a bargain and got the chicken for 50% off the regular price!!!

Gently beat the egg and milk together in a bowl.

I didn't want to take away from the flavor of the crisps by adding too many seasonings, so I added just a bit more onion flavor with the onion powder and then the parsley and pepper.

Next, I dipped each chicken tender in the egg mixture and coated it in the crisp mixture. The chicken pieces were then placed on a cookie sheet that had been lightly sprayed with an olive oil spray, just so tenders wouldn't stick to the pan.

I baked the chicken crispy critters at 400 degrees for 20 minutes and hoped this experiment would work!
I served the Seabrooks chicken with a side dish of potatos, onions, mushrooms and green beans and presented it to the Hubs as a surprise with a pint of Riggwelter, a Yorkshire ale produced at the Black Sheep Brewery.
The Hubs was indeed surprised, the experiment worked and it was a bit of a fun meal!! The chicken came out pretty crispy and he guessed what the flavor was on the third guess!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cranberry Cardamom Muffins

These are really nice moist muffins that have a nicely distinct flavor that comes from the cardamom. And I've become a bit picky about cardamom, preferring to grind the cardamom seeds myself in my mortar and pestle. The seeds are very hard and it takes a while to get them ground, but it's worth it and it's a good way to work out frustrations.

People usually think of cardamom as a spice used in savory Indian dishes or Indian sweets, but it's a favorite spice used by Scandinavians in their pastries.

One baking secret I'll share is my fairly recent discovery of vanilla bean paste. It's used as a substitue for vanilla extract. It gives baked goods a richer taste.

(for 2 dozen muffins)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
4 eggs
2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

I started this recipe by cracking open the green cardamom pods to reveal the dark brown to black seeds within. I popped them in the mortar and started the grinding.
As the seeds grind the aroma of the cardamom fills the kitchen. It has such a strong scent, but is quite pleasant. I grind the seeds until I have a dark brown to black powder. I set those aside and gathered all of the dry ingredients together for mixing. At the same time I put the butter in a bowl and set it on the stove to start melting. It's nice to have a gas stove that has pilot lights underneath for gentle melting like this.

Ok, on to the muffins...

I measured out the dry ingredients, the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cardamom powder in one bowl and mix it all together really well.

Then I tossed in the cranberries and coat them with the dry mixture. You can toss frozen cranberries directly into the mix without thawing them.

Next, I mixed all of the wet ingredients. I slightly beat eggs and added the sour cream, mixing the two together well. Then I added the melted butter and finally the vanilla paste. And because the vanilla paste is soooo thick, it doesn't all come off the measuring spoon, so I get a taste of the vanilla...yum. This is something I don't think you could do with vanilla extract. It just doesn't taste the same.

Then I added the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Now with muffins, you don't want to over mix the wet and dry ingredients. You want to mix it just enough so that you don't see any dry ingredients and it's perfetly fine for the batter to be lumpy. In fact, the lumpier, the better. It gives the muffins their texture.

This batter is real thick, as it should be and almost a bit annoyingly sticky and difficult to scoop into the muffin tins. But anyway...

I filled muffin tins with paper liners or you could lightly grease the tin so the muffins don't stick. It's best to fill the tins about 2/3 deep, but I know these muffins aren't high risers (probably because of all the moisture from the sour cream...not sure), so I take it a smidge higher.

I popped the muffins into the oven at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. But I did the first toothpick test around 15 minutes to see how they were going. The toothpick test is where you take a toothpick and slide it into the center of the muffin and see if the toothpick comes out with batter on it, or if it comes out clean. If it's clean, the muffins are done.

These are so yummy strainght out of the oven warm. With a cold glass of milk....nice!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Greek-style Lamb Burgers

Burgers, burgers! They are a summertime classic. Beef burgers are the most common I'd suspect, but other types have crept onto the burger scene and are gaining in popularity, such as turkey, and veggie burgers. But one kind that you don't see as often, but is really quite tasty is the lamb burger.

I first had a lamb burger a few years ago at a pub and was instantly struck by the taste. I was pretty sure I could do this myself at home, so I looked around the internet for recipes and have tweaked about three that I'd come across, until I made this one into my own. It's a Greek-style lamb burger served in a pita.

Here, I'd also like to give a shout out to the place I get my ground lamb from. I discovered Mint Creek Farm at Chicago's Green City Market. Their lamb is free-range, grass-fed and never given hormones. It has such a delicate taste and I love the idea of supporting a sustainable, local farmer. AND, the best thing is that they are very reasonable in their prices...a full $2.00 per pound less than the cost of ground lamb from Whole Paycheck.


1 lb ground lamb
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tsp oregano or marjoram
1 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Toss all of the ingredients into a bowl and mixed up well.

Form mixture into patties, how many depends on how big of a patty you want.

Since I was using my toaster oven this night to make some roasted potatoes to go with this, I cooked these in a pan. You can throw these on the grill, toaster oven, pan or any other way you cook any other type of burger. Just lightly brush with olive oil prior to cooking, so they don't stick to whatever surface you are cooking them on.

One thing I learned on the Food Network about cooking burgers is to let a burger cook without fussing over it. Let one side get brown, and flip once to brown the other side...and NEVER take smash them down to make them flatter. This only squeezes out the good juices. This is something I see people do ALL the time. I wonder where that came from. Maybe from wanting a flatter burger on the bun. Well, whatever the reason, don't do it. lol
For a medium-cooked burger cook to 160º. In the meantime, warm some pita pockets to prepare for serving. I had this burger with Greek tzatziki sauce, lettuce, black olives and tomatoes in the pocket. OH-Pah!!!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Someone has a sense of humor...

Everyday when I get to work or leave to go home, I find it amusing that the building I work in has installed the outdoor ashtrays/cigarette extinguishers right smack next to the bicycle rack. I'm sure the bikers LOVE that. There they are being all healthy and then BAM, they gotta park their bike while someone next to them is huffing and puffing. *snicker*

The Hubs and I recently went to an Indian restaurant that had one of those long yummy lunch buffets, probably not the most authentic Indian food, and probably seasoned down for western palates. But the thing I found amusing was the huge reproduction of DaVinci's The Last Supper hanging right above it. Odd...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Thanks for the laughs George...

I was very sad to hear of the passing of the Hippy Dippy Weatherman. I never got to see him live, but I'd seen his shows on VHS and DVD. I'm certainly going to have to give some of them a re-watch. My mum was able to see him a number of times...she loved his shows.

What was great about him was that he said everything you would want to say, IF you'd even thought of it, because he did look at things from a slightly off-center perspective. Too bad he did so many drugs and too bad he died from heart troubles. He was 71, which for some reason shocked me. Aww George, thanks for making loads of people laugh and for getting under the skins of others.

Some good stuff from George...

When cheese gets it's picture taken, what does it say?

Is a vegetarian permitted to eat animal crackers?

What if there were no hypothetical questions?

Frisbeetarianism is the belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck.

Some national parks have long waiting lists for camping reservations. When you have to wait a year to sleep next to a tree, something is wrong.

Before they invented drawing boards, what did they go back to?

Why do croutons come in airtight packages? It's just stale bread to begin with.

I have as much authority as the Pope, I just don't have as many people who believe it.

Electricity is really just organized lightning.

I recently went to a new doctor and noticed he was located in something called the Professional Building. I felt better right away.

I'm completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death.

I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately.

The only good thing ever to come out of religion was the music.

I would never want to be a member of a group whose symbol was a guy nailed to two pieces of wood.

Some people see things that are and ask, Why? Some people dream of things that never were and ask, Why not? Some people have to go to work and don't have time for all that.

The very existence of flame-throwers proves that some time, somewhere, someone said to themselves, You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I'm just not close enough to get the job done.

Weather forecast for tonight: dark. Continued dark tonight, turning to partly light in the morning.

What does it mean to pre-board? Do you get on before you get on?

When Thomas Edison worked late into the night on the electric light, he had to do it by gas lamp or candle. I'm sure it made the work seem that much more urgent.

When you're born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you're born in America, you get a front row seat.

I'm always relieved when someone is delivering a eulogy and I realize I'm listening to it.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Kahlua Pecan Fudge

I'm a member of a group through called What's Cooking Chicago?!. The group is for people who like to cook & bake! Events planned include anything from potlucks, to cooking demonstrations, food swaps, ethnic food tours, and everything else under the sun related to food. The organizer of this group is absolutely dynamite. She organizes these super events, mostly on the weekends, leaving many of us participants to wonder how does she get this all done, and work a full-time job. Check out her blog, Joelen's Culinary Adventures, to see more about what the group gets up to.

So anyway, yesterday was a swap event that was just too yummy to pass up. It was a fudge swap!!! We had to bring a pan of fudge to the swap to share with the other participants. I'd never made fudge before and for some reason I thought there was baking invloved. Thank god there wasn't!! I wasn't up for turning the oven on. And as someone at the fudge swap said, I don't know why fudge is so expensive when it's so easy to make. The only thing I can think of is maybe some fudges are made with really expensive chocolate.... I dunno.

So here's the recipe....

Kahlua Pecan Fudge

1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 7oz jar marshmallow creme
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup Kahlua
1/4 tspn salt
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate pieces
1 cup milk chocolate peices
2/3 cup pecans (or nuts of choice)
1 tsp vanilla

Line 8" square baking pan with foil.

In a 2 quart saucepan, combine sugar, marshmallow creme, milk, butter, Kahlua and salt. Here's a tip I learned after the fact, at the easier to get the marshmallow creme out of the jar if you microwave it for a few seconds and then you can just pour it right out of the jar instead of tring to scoop it out, one gooey spoonful at a time. Aaack, I wish I'd known that, or thought of it ahead of time. Anywhooo...bring mixture to a rapid boil, stiring constantly for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat. Add all chocolate and stir until melted.

Add nuts and vanilla.

Pour into the foil-lined pan. Refrigerate until firm. I put some extra pecans on the top of the fudge.

To serve, cut in squares. Enjoy! Yum!!!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Some random thoughts today...

- Why do people feel the need to invade your personal space when it's a gazillion degrees and twice that much humidity? Grrr, get AWAY from me. I'm crabby. It's hot and I'm not amused.

- Why would an Indian restaurant put a giant picture of the Last Supper right up over their lunch buffet?? Seems odd for a few reasons.

- Why do people at my job, some who have been with the organization 20, 25, 30, 35 years act like it's the first time we've done an "Annual Meeting"????? It's....ummm...ANNUAL, and you've done it before, along with an interim meeting as well, every year since you've been with the org., GET OVER IT!

- Why does it have to be so hot? And can I slug someone who says...ohhh, I love this weather...

- Why are men more likely than women, to NOT give up their seat on a crowded bus for an older indivual, or woman carrying a baby (either inside her or out). What happend to gentlemen?

- Why do tourists walk through a revolving door and then immediately stop? Are they not aware how these contraptions work? MOVE!

- Why do some people paint all liberals with the same brush, ALL card-carrying, tree-hugging, bunny-loving, lentil-eating, sandal-wearing, hippie wackos? hmm, that might not be too far off actually LOL...but how can one be all those things AND an elitist?

- Why is wine so bitter?

- Why is the style for ladies blouses this year to have little cap sleeves. I don't like cap sleeves. What happened to normal sleeves?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Final Four, Final Four!

No, I'm not talking about the NBA or NHL finals... but the final four cities in the running for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games are: Chicago... YAY!, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo and Madrid. My thought is that since Tokyo has already hosted the summer games, they should be given a pass over cities that haven't. Unfortunately, they received the highest score from the IOC...hmmm. In the scores, Madrid was next. Eh, for some reason, they don't seem like the biggest threat to Chicago winning it. Chicago was third in the scoring, with Rio last. But it's Rio that has me most concerned. Not one South American city has ever hosted the Olympics. The IOC just might think it's their turn and I guess they didn't mess up the PanAm games last year. The thing that would make it attractive to ME is that it will be winter during the games which are normally held in August and sheesh, Chicago can be downright nasty in August...ICK! But I'm hoping my hometown can hold on and get the bid. It would provide a lot of income and jobs for the city.....if we could only get a handle on our mass transit situation...
The final decision will come in October of 2009.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Chorizo, Chickpea and Spinach Sauté

I was watching Guy's Big Bite on the Food Network this weekend and saw him make this recipe and thought...mmmm, that sounds good and really thought the Hubs would enjoy it, knowing how much he likes chorizo. Everything always sounds and looks good on the Food Network though...hehe. I've changed his original recipe slightly, so if you want to see it, check out his recipes on the Food Network Web site.

Before moving on to all of the ingredients, take note that this recipe calls for the soft Mexican chorizo, not the hard Spanish variety. I also used a nice picante version of the chorizo because I knew that would give it a bit of a kick and I wouldn't have to worry about seasoning much.

So here we are:

1 tsp olive oil
1 lb Mexican Picante Chorizo, removed from the casing
1 15oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup diced onion
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic
1 8oz package of fresh spinach leaves
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup Mexican Queso Fresco cheese
Salt and pepper to taste ( I did not use any salt)

Put the olive oil in a sauté pan, and add the chorizo. Heat on a medium flame for about 10 minutes, breaking it apart as it cooks. Add the drained chickpeas to the pan and sauté for approximately 5 minutes.

In same pan, add onions and sauté on low for 10 minutes until onions are soft. Add mushrooms, garlic and pepper and continue to sauté for 5 minutes. It's nice if the mushrooms have a bit of bit to them, not hard, but I don't like them to get too mushy.

Add in spinach (and down't worry that it looks like a hell of a lot of spinach because it reduces so much as it wilts) and chicken broth. Cover and let spinach wilt on low heat for 5 to 10 minutes. Give it a few gentle stirs to cover the spinach with the mixture, but don't over stir it.

While the spinach was wilting, I popped some bread I'd covered with butter (Smart Balance actually), garlic powder and paprika into the toaster over to make some garlic toast.

A few minutes before serving, toss in most of the cheese, allowing it to soften just a bit. Serve over a small bed of the fresh, uncooked spinach leaves and sprinkle the remainder of the cheese on top. Grab an ice cold drink and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Whaaaaaaaaaat? 729 layers?

I took a puff pastry class recently and thought I'd brag about my results. This wasn't a puff pastry class where we made the pastry from scratch, because apparently that would take about 6 hours of wait time, while the layers, so we used store-bought frozen pastries and I must say, the results came out quite nice. I DID learn something amazing though and that is that a classically made puff pastry has 729 layers in it! SEVEN HUNDRED TWENTY NINE! That comes from taking the dough, folding it in thirds and letting it chill, then putting in some butter and folding it again in thirds, and doing that 6 times until the original 3 layers have multiplied each time. What makes it puff is air from the water in the butter. AH HA! And that is our chemistry lesson for the day. Chemistry was NEVER this fun or tasty in college. LOL

Anywhooo, at my class we were given the choice of making a sweet or savory pastry and I went with the sweet because I didn't like the choice for the savory... tomato(ick) basil with parmesean cheese. The sweet was a strawberry and cream pastry.

Here is the recipe:
Strawberries & Cream Tart

1 puff pastry sheet
1 block cream cheese
1/2 tablespoon vanilla paste or vanilla extract
1/2 cup half & half
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cup sliced or quarted strawberries

Preheat oven to 400.
Prep your baking pan with parchment paper.
Place your puff pastry sheet on the baking pan.

Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, 10-12 minutes.
Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.

While dough is baking, prep the vanilla cream cheese frosting.
Whip the cream cheese until soft, adding half & half to help ease it.
Slowly add the powdered sugar, vanilla and remaining half & half until fully combined.

When the puff pastry has cooled slightly, spread the frosting on top of the pastry dough.
Top with fresh strawberries.
And TA DA!! The finished product...

This is best eaten right away. The Hubs and I had some later in the day and I was really impressed with the quality of the Trader Joe's frozen pastry. Maybe someday I'll attempt to make a puff pastry from scratch.

Monday, June 2, 2008


Yay! It's the Hubs birthday today!

It's great that our birthdays are so close together. I've checked on the calendar and the next time we will have our birthdays on consecutive weekends is in 2012. So I propose right now that we plan a little trip to leave on Friday night, May 25th and celebrate right thru June 2nd, returning home on June 3rd. It will be great! C'mon Hubs... let's do it!! We have 4 years to plan it...hehehe.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Friday, May 23, 2008


Woohoo! This is how I feel about the end of this day coming. It's the start of the holiday weekend, it's a four-day weekend for me, AND it's me BIRFDAY weekend! w00t!

I snatched this fine piccie from a dang good Cookie!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

French Onion Soup

Thought I'd share this recipe that I made the other day. The Hubs is a big fan of it and I'd never made it for him before, so why not? I don't have an exact recipe, but it's not like you can really mess this one up.

1. I sautéed about 3 cups of white, yellow and red onions, and 2 shallots, which had been sliced very thinly, in about 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1/4 cup of margarine (I use Smart Balance) or you could use butter if you choose. I let the onions sauté for about 30 minutes on a medium low heat, not high enough to let the onions get brown. You want them to get all nice and soft and transluscent. I added 1 tsp of flour to the onions and stirred for a couplte of minutes until the flour was throroughly mixed in.

2. I added 4 cups of beef stock and 1/4 cup of white wine to the pot. I've seen various recipes calling for white or red wine or sherry. I used the white wine because I had just that much left in the bottle from the last recipe I made which required white wine and because when I tried to take the cork out of the bottle of sherry it broke off and I couldn't be bothered to fish out the rest of the cork at that moment. Then I added some pepper, a bay leaf and some allspice. I didn't add any salt because frankly the beef stock had enough salt in it. I let the pot simmer on low for at least a half hour.

3. While that was going on, I sliced up a demi-baguette I'd bought that day at Trader Joe's. Mmmmm, the bread was nice and crusty. I lightly toasted it and popped the pieces in bowls in preparation for the next step.

4. I ladled the soup over the bread, making sure to get a lot of onions in each bowl...that IS the point afterall.

5. I put sliced pieces of swiss cheese over the soup, letting corners of the cheese hang over the edge of the bowl. It's best if you can put the bowls in a broiler or large enough toaster oven to melt and brown the cheese. But I've never even been able to get the broiler door open on our oven and I don't like the idea of food cooking so close to the floor (since the broiler is at the bottom of our oven) and our toaster oven wasn't big enough for this task. So I put the bowls of soup in the oven on 450° for about 20 minutes until the cheese was nice and bubbly and brown.

Be careful...I've heard more people say they burn themselves on French Onion Soup! There is just something irresistable about that bubbly cheese, but the soup below is absolutley scalding...hehehe. Mmmm, so, so good. I did NOT burn myself, nor did the all was good. Here was the finished product...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


It had to be done. I was eventually going to HAVE to make that trip down to the DMV to get a new ID card. I'd been dreading this for oh...about 3 years now, ever since I lost my state ID card.

After I got married, in December for 2003, I went in to get the new ID with my name change. I didn't think this would be complicated, seeing as I had all of the proper documents, including my shiny new Social Security card. But ohhhh, no...not for a DMV employee...someone who can only think within very narrow parameters.

I was waited on by a state employee I will affectionately refer to as Crusty, because he was a crusty ole grump. Well everything was going along fine until I had handed over my United Kingdom marriage certificate and his gears immediately downshifted. The rules state that when you are changing your name due to marriage, you have to bring in an original of the certificate with a raised seal. Well, Crusty didn't know how to process the fact that UK marriage certificates doesn't have a raised seal and further more are not officially typed out. That raised seal really stuck in his craw. Ours anyway, was handwritten by the registrar who proceeded over our marriage and contains the words spinster (GRRR) and bachelor and carries the royal emblem...stamped, not raised. Good old Crusty wasn't going to accept this ORIGINAL, CERTIFIED copy of my marriage certificate. I asked quite level-headedly and calmly what was it he proposed I do in order to prove it is a valid document? I wanted to shout..."YOU WANT ME TO GO GRAB 'LIZABETH, AND TROT HER AND HER CORGIS IN HERE SO SHE CAN VALIDATE IT...MAYBE SHE'LL KNIGHT YOU WHILE IN THE PROCESS FOR BEING SUCH A DAMN FINE DMV EMPLOYEE"? Crusty grumbled off to talk to a manager, or fifty, and they umm'd, ahh'd and pointed. I think they all rubbed their thumbs across it looking for that damn raised seal. Then Crusty came back and in a tone that was meant to convey severe apprehension, he said he'd accept it, but I had the feeling I should be REAL damn lucky he did, and should bow in gratitude or something. I'm guessing no one in my great state of Illinois has ever married outside the country before.

Anywhooo...this so rattled Crusty's cage that he made just a lil tiny, eensy weensy booboo, one which I didn't noticed until several months later, and one I didn't want to even think about having to go back to the DMV to get corrected....he entered my sex as MALE!!!! Secretly I think he did it on purpose. And then at some point, I lost the ID.

So I walked around for a few years without an official state ID, using my passport or work ID when I absolutely needed one, which really wasn't all that often...really only when the Hubs and I went to a bar that wanted to harass women that are clearly over the drinking age. I needed a new ID though, so after enough nagging from the Hubs, I finally decided, that's it, I'm going to just get it over with.

I checked the DMV web site to see what are acceptable forms of ID and gathered together my birth certificate (proving that yes, I was indeed born FEMALE), marriage certificate (EGADS, there is no way of getting around the fact that I have to show how I got from maiden name to married name), social security card (natch), and lease to show proof of address. I merrily skipped on down to the DMV, arriving at 7:20am, knowing they opened at 8:00am, but determined to be in and out of there like greased lightning. I pulled out my book and watched the line grow behind me...I was first in line...hurrah! Then at about 7:50am, a compact lady with sensible shoes and a very swift, efficient looking manner about her...and a clipboard (the sure sign of authority), unlocked the door and asked that we form an orderly line outside the door and gather all of our documents together so she could check them out prior to entering. She wanted to make sure we had everything we needed for whatever our desired service was. I remembered this from last time and whipped them out, all..."AH HA"-like. She hesitated at the foreign marriage cert., only asking if I'd had another state ID at any time. Nope...ok, she said I was good to go. She went through the line and informed us she'd be back to give us numbers. Being first in line you'd think I get the first number right? WRONG...three seniors got the first numbers, because well, they are seniors and they can't sit around waiting all day. Those of us who have to go to work can...

No biggie, once we were allowed to officially go into the DMV office, the seniors were called up, two of them were a tad thrown off by the booming electronic voice telling them which desk to go to. Then it was my turn!!! E-gads, I was being waited on by Crusty's friend Grumbly. He asked what I was there for. I told him a new card, to replace a lost card, that wasn't due to expire until next year on my birthday, and a correction to the card. And what was that correction he inquired. I told him it said "male" and kind of heh-heh'd, saying that I could assure him I was born female. What I wanted to do was spin sideways, narrow my eyes to a glare and point accusingly at Crusty (because oh, yes he was there just 2 desks down) and yell... "YOU! YOU made this mistake, you imcompetent Crusty fart!" Grumbly didn't react much...Grumbly didn't seem to have much of a pulse. Whenever he asked a question, he cut me off, so I just stood there, waiting for him to finish tap-tapping...FEMALE, Grumbly, FEMALE...get it right. He printed off a form for me to sign and I noticed something, it said expiration date of 2009. WHAT??? I said, ahem, why is this only good for one year? Well, silly me, because it's a duplicate and had I noticed the error immediately, they could have replaced it for free, and if I came back next week on my birthday, it could be valid for the 5 years. I couldn't take it...I signed the thing, with full realization that I'd have to return in one year to do it all over again. WAAAAAAAAH!!!! And with full realization that I'd have have to pay another $20 bucks next year. But I just couldn't bear it, I couldn't bear the thought of going back into the office again next week. I just wanted to be done with it and I'll worry about next year. As long as I don't lose the thing again...ahem...I won't have to produce ALL those documents (including the evil marriage cert) next year. Oh, and here's the other thing, not only do I NOT want to go to the DMV again next week, you gotta be crazy if you think I'm going to spend my birthday with either Crusty, Grumbly or any of the other DMV dwarfs.

The rest was a breeze...paid the cashier $20, went to the photo area, got awful picture taken by very pleasant lady who giggled when I said I just wanted to make sure it didn't say "male", like last time, and she said, no, it's too early in the morning for sex changes.... She's alright! Too bad she can't spread her personality to Crusty and Grumbly.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Holy freakin' crap!

After waiting 406 days for my husband to have the conditions removed from his greencard, he's been approved!!! FOUR HUNDRED and SIX! When my husband entered the country almost 3 years ago, he was given conditional status because we hadn't been married over 2 years at that time. The green card he received was good for 2 years. The rules of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) state that within 90 days of expiration of the green card the immigrant is to file for lifting of the conditional status to recieve a "permanent" 10-year green card. Ok, fine, we did that, supplied goo-gobs of supporting evidence that we were still married and that he hadn't entered the country via a sham marriage, and paid their big fee. And then we just waited....and waited. There was nothing we could do to move the process along as the center that was handling our case was working on cases several months prior to the date we filed. And then they just stopped processing cases, apparently because of the massive increase last year in naturalization filings. Eventually our case was transferred to another center in late March of this year and bing-bang, they knocked it right out. We only have one USCIS hurdle left....the naturalization hurdle, which my husband is eligible for at this time. An immigrant married to a US citizen is eligible to apply for naturlization within the 90 days of the 3 year anniversary of becoming a permanent resident. For my husband, that was the day he entered the country. aaack, I don't know if we are ready to go through another lengthy waiting period at this time, AND hand over another big fat check. Someday we won't have to deal with USCIS ever again....YIPEEE!!!

At least we can say we are doing this all legal-like, never having to look over shoulders and wonder if he'll be booted. And that's all I'll say about that.....

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Back in da groove...

Ok, I took a little blog break there. It wasn't too long, but I actually had a reader poke me and say hey...get moving. Maybe I just didn't know what to say.

Anywhoooo, take a look at the flowers growing on the plant in my living room. These are the funniest flowers because they don't look real. They look like a little plastic clump, almost feel like plastic, and strangely enough, they pop out of the plant upside down and under the leaves so you don't see them sometimes until they are in a full bloom. This is the first year this plant is blooming for me. The plant was started as a clipping for me from a co-worker last year and I was hoping to get flowers this year....YAY!!! It's one of those great, throw som water at it occasionally and forget it plants and it LOVES bright, bright sunshine, which I get a LOT of in the living room window. I get so much that other plants just can't take it, plants that grow wild outside cant'take the excessive sunlight.

This week in the mail I received my book club book for May. I didn't know it was going to be 455 pages and with tiny print! I thought aaack, how am I going to finish this one on time if I just read it on the bus. Well I picked this book up on Thursday morning and couldn't put it down. I finished it Saturday afternoon, ignoring the bedroom that needed straightening and eating a sandwich while reading it. The book was Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. WOW, was it compelling, sad, thought provoking, even a little suspenseful. It's the fictional account of a what leads up to and occurs in the aftermath of a highschool shooting in a small town. I highly recommend it. I have two other Jodi Picoult books which I look forward to reading.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Roasted Chicken with Garlic and Herbs

Ok, here's my Roasted Chicken with Garlic and Herbs, served with rosemary roasted potatoes with goat cheese and steamed green beans with pearl onions.

The chicken recipe....

1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts
4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dried Thyme1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp Creole seasoning
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced (depending on how much garlic you like)
Black pepper Salt if you want (the Creole seasoning has salt in it, so I didn't use more)

Make marinade: Combine lemon juice, oil, herbs, seasoning, garlic and pepper (salt if you are using.

Wash chicken, pat dry, put chicken in marinade and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Arrange chicken in roasting pan, pour some of the marinade over the chicken so the chicken doesn't dry out while cooking. Bake for 35-40 minutes, basting several times.

This recipe originally called for chicken legs, but legs are not the Hub's favorite and he doesn't like chicken with skin. If you use bone-in meat it will take longer than I've said in this recipe. It was good though...juicy. Also, the original recipe didn't call for marinating, but I think it made the flavor better.

Friday, April 18, 2008

New "do"

Life is good again. Well, at least my hair life is good again...
Back at the beginning of March, I did the unthinkable, I cheated on my colorist and not only had my hair done by someone else, but at a different salon. I knew immediately that I'd made a mistake. I wasn't happy with the results, the salon, and felt stupid for not just telling my original colorist that I wasn't completely satisfied with the results I'd gotten. So I sucked it up, knowing that she'd know immediately that I'd been elsewhere since my hair was a totally different color, but was also obvious that it was a professional job, and I went in for a hair color yesterday. I told her...aaack, I messed up and that I should have just told her I wasn't happy. She ust said she was happy to see me and that if anything ever isn't right, just LET HER KNOW! Ok, lesson learned. So she fixed what I didn't like about the last color job and the rest of the conversation was about the rest of our lives....just as it should be. And YAY, I LOVE the color, so it's a happy Caturday on that front.

Otherwise, I'm still not 100% back to feeling the way I should, so I'm taking it easy today. I just finished reading a book by one of my favorite mystery authors, James Patterson's 1st to Die. It's the first in a series of four (so far) books about the Women's Murder Club. I've seen promos for the tv show based on the novels, but I've decided I don't want to watch it, because I don't want it to mess with the way I've got the characters envisioned in my mind. I'm guessing it would be a bit off of the book anyway. I flew through the some 470 odd pages in this book; it was good stuff! So now I've got to get the second book....oooh! I'd been in a certain chick-lit phase because I'm in a chick-lit book club, so this was perfect for breaking that up. So with that book done, I've got to peruse my shelves until my next chick-lit book club book comes to me from Amazon. It actually isn't anymore chick-lit than 1st to Die. I'ts Jodi Picult's Nineteen Minutes, about a small-town highschool shooting and what would cause someone to do it. It should be interesting.

So that's it for today, I'm off to drink my Ensure and find a book to read.

Happy Caturday!!