Monday, January 22, 2007

Seafood Salad

I have a really yummy seafood salad I like to make and serve with grilled flank steak as a surf and turf meal. Great in the summer time! (or in the winter when you wanna feel like it is summer)

1 lobster - 1 1/4 lbs uncooked
1.5 lb shrimp
1.5 lb bay scallops
2 lemons
1 onion
1 stalk of celery
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon chili powder
salt and pepper
2 avocados

Bring large pot of water to boil, dropping lobster in and cooking for approximately 10 minutes.
Drain and cool, removing all the meet from the tail, claws, joints, and back. Dice the tail and claws into chunks. Set aside.

Quarter the onion, quarter 1 lemon, cut the celery stalk in half. Bring another pot of water to a boil with the onion, lemon, and celery in the pot. Add the shrimp and cook until bright pink, approximately 5-6 minutes. Drain immediately and drop in cold water. Peel and halve shrimp, set aside.

Saute scallops in a little bit of olive oil until done, approximately 5-6 minutes. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the juice of 1 lemon, mayonnaise, chili powder, and salt and pepper. The sauce should be thin, but not runny. If runny, add a little more mayonnaise. Taste and alter seasonings accordingly. Add seafood to bowl, stir to coat.

Cut avocado in half, remove pit, scoop from skin. Keep halves intact, placing each on a plate. Fill the center, allowing to overflow onto the plate, with 1/4 of the salad mixture.

I hope you enjoy! As I stated above, I love to serve this with a grilled flank steak!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


She stepped off the bus into the hot sun
A bag over her shoulder
A book in her hand

With one look from me she ran
Straight into my arms, dropping everything
Squeezing me tight

Without a sound, we climbed into my car
Windows open to let the hot breeze pass us
Slowing to see our old hometown

“My dad left us, six months ago”
The first words uttered between us
Tears streaming down her cheeks

Pulling into the parking lot, we climb out
Hand in hand we approached the swings
Choosing the ones from so long ago

Higher and higher we go
Trying to reach the sky
“He’s been having an affair with my parent’s best friend”

Slowly we touch back down
Still in my seat, I reach over to her
Giving her a hug and telling her

“I’ll always be there”

Standing up, I walk over to the balance beam
Giver her a minute to collect
I tip toe across, dip and turn

I sit down to wait, watching
Slowly she rises and looks my way
The distance between us is crossed quickly

I slide over, offering her the warm seat
Her head is put on my shoulder
My arms slip around her neck and waist

The words start to flow
Her pain makes me cry and I hold her tight
Hearing her words, listening to her hurts

No advice passes my lips, no words period
Shaking, I guide her to stand
Turning, we start to walk, arm in arm

The tears stop, the words stop
Approaching a stream, we take our shoes off
Letting the water cool us, we start to laugh

Written in my Creative Writing Class - Fall 2002

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Cream of Mushroom Soup

I hate mushrooms, mainly their texture, but I still make a really yummy cream of mushroom soup. George, on of my best friends, stopped by the apartment the other day unexpectedly. Since Hannah is low on the cash flow, and George was hungry, making something at home made sense.
Cream of mushroom is Georges favorite, and since he was paying, I made what he wanted (I had a tiny tiny bowl to taste it and toast.)

Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 tablespoons of butter
1 10 oz package sliced Crimini mushrooms
1 10 0z package sliced button mushrooms
1 quart of chicken stock
1 cup of white wine
1 pint of heavy cream
3 garlic cloves - minced
1 small shallot - minced
salt and pepper

In a deep soup pot, add the olive oil, butter, minced garlic and shallot, turning the heat to medium. When the air starts to smell like garlic and shallot, add the sliced mushrooms, tossing to coat and allow to brown and soften. After approximately 5 minutes, add the wine, a tablespoon or two at a time, allowing to reduce before adding more.
Once all the wine is added, slowly, a cup at a time, add the chicken stock. I like to make my cream of mushroom soup thin, so I use the entire quart. Depending on how thick/think you like the soup use as much or as little of the chicken stock as you wish. Season with salt and pepper. Allow the soup to simmer for about 5 minutes, blend with an immersion blender, or in small batches in a regular blender. Whisk in the cream and serve.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Saturday Night Bowl 'o' Rama!

Central Vermont, dead of winter, no snow. What to do when the normal winter activities of ice skating, sledding, and snowshoeing are removed from the list? Dinner and bowling of course!

Since this was Stan's party, he took care of the invitations, sending out the amazing:

S A T U R D A Y N I G H T B O W L ' O ' R A M A



Stan asked me to fix dinner, and of course, being the Rachael Ray fan that I am, found a recipe from one of her many cookbooks that I own. The reviews that you read where people claim they cannot prepare anything of hers within 30 minutes must not know how to multitask. I have never had a problem preparing one of her meals in under 30 minutes unless I walk out of the kitchen to tend to other business!

Southwestern Pasta Bake
coarse salt

1 lb penne
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size pieces (6 oz. each)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons chili powder coarse black pepper
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
3/4 lb sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Of course, I did make some substitutions! I don't really like onions, so I substituted two shallots for the onion, and cilantro tastes like soap to me, so I just used some extra parsley!

Get a big pot of water on to boil, when boiling, add some salt, and pasta, cook till the pasta is almost done. Preheat the oven to 350 f.

While water boils, cut up chicken, season with a little salt and pepper, the cumin, curry, and chili powder, add to fry pan with a little bit of oil. I have a pump bottle that you put oil into to just coat a pan, and that is what I used instead of two tablespoons of oil. As the chicken cooks, chop up the onion (shallot), garlic, and jalapeno, adding to the pan of chicken when chicken is cooked.

In another pan (or, do as I did and wait until the chicken is done cooking and set it aside in a bowl). Add the butter and flour, allowing the butter to melt, absorbing the flour and let cook for a minute. Season with salt and pepper and slowly whisk in milk. When whisked and warm, start to whisk in shredded cheese.

When cheese sauce is complete, mix with chicken mixture and pasta. Place in oven safe dish and bake for 15-20 minutes till hot and bubbly.

Home Style Salad Dressing
1 large shallot
3 garlic cloves
handful of parsley
several tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
several tablespoons of olive oil

Place everything into food processor or mini chop-chop and blend. Then add olive oil and blend again, placing is dish to serve! Enjoy!

Dinner was excellent, and bowling was even better! For the first time ever, I was not the only loser! Granted, I was a loser, I just had someone tie with me.

Friday, January 05, 2007

West to East

The summer of 2002 I went on, at the time, the trip of a lifetime. My boyfriend of two and a half years had just broken up with me; I needed to get away for the summer. Knowing I had family friends on the West Coast, it was only a matter of a few phone calls to determine where I would be headed. This trip of a lifetime was one of personal growth, spiritual connection, and space. The culmination of my efforts came on my trip home.

After picking my mom up at the Spokane International Airport, her flight had been delayed by over an hour, we were heading back to Susie’s for the night before making our trek back to Vermont. Just after making it back to the small town of Davenport, where I had called home for the summer, we stopped to grab something to eat. I called this a small town, and it really is a small town; the restaurant where we ate was also the town bar, as well as the bowling alley, and soft serve joint.

Hours of catching up with Susie, a few beers, before we knew it, it was midnight, and time to get sleep if we wanted to be up and on the road as early as we discussed. Six o’clock is only supposed to come once a day, and that is in the evening.

Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!

Rolling out of bed is exactly how I woke up that morning, having given my mom the guest bed, I slept on the couch. It didn’t take long before we had the car packed and were on the road.

We set a pretty heavy pace for ourselves, making it to the Northern Entrance of Yellow Stone National Park by nightfall. Not having a reservation in the Park, we had to scramble to find a place outside the entrance. We were in luck; we found the only campsite with any available space. It was perfect. We were right next to the river, running out of Yellowstone, green grass to set up the tent, and a grill. They also had a sink to wash dishes, and a shower, with hot water!

We had stopped at a grocery store about an hour and a half outside of Yellowstone, and bought some amazing looking salmon. We thought if we grilled the salmon, it would go perfect with a simple tossed salad.

While my mom got the fire made, I set up the tent. This was a two person tent I earned by selling Christmas cards and wrapping paper when I was ten or eleven years old.

My mom thought she heard on the radio earlier, that there were going to be shooting starts that night. After cleaning up from dinner, and getting what we could ready for morning, we climbed into the tent, with our heads out the opening, watching for the shooting stars. It was a quiet peaceful time, while we listened to the sites around us getting ready to bed, the babbling and rushing of the river, when we saw the first shooting star. At the same time, we both pointed and said “there! Do you see it?” By the time we lowered our hands, another one passed over us. Then it was quiet.

While we waited for more, we talked about my summer, how I was feeling, what I was looking forward to about coming home. My mom has always known how to listen to me, and hear what I am not always saying. Another shooting star whizzes by over head, and another, and another. We lay in quiet silence, not wanting to disrupt the peace that the stars created. Soon, they stopped, and there were no more shooting stars. We pulled our heads back in, said goodnight, and before we knew it, morning was upon us.

“It sounds like we have entered an International House of Pancakes, doesn’t it?” my mom asked me. All around us, there were people speaking in different languages. The morning air was filled with energy, excitement of what lay ahead.

As I took down the tent, my mom again got the fire going. We were having hot chocolate and cereal with sliced strawberries for breakfast. Despite the fact that we were up as early as we had been the day before, I felt much more rested, and had a whole lot more energy. Maybe that was because my mom was excited about showing me the park, as she had been their before. Maybe it was because I slept outside, where I always seem to sleep better.

Over breakfast we talked about what we would do that day. We agreed we wanted to get to the Grand Tetons by nightfall, so we had all day to get through the park. The top three things we wanted to see in the park was Mammoth Hot Springs, which was easy, since that was almost immediately inside the park, Yellowstone Grand Canyon, and Old Faithful Lodge.

My mom and I share similar thoughts on what is breathtaking, spiritual, as well as a combination of the two. Each spot, we knew, would be equally breathtaking and spiritual, in their own way. Mammoth Hot Springs, immense hot springs bubbling up, creating limestone terraces; from the bottom, you can see the water dribbling down, the layers that have been created over time, from the top, the wind blows and shimmers, flowing over the edge. Each taking a moment to close our eyes, amazed at how Mammoth Hot Springs has grown over time; I took that moment to realize how lucky I was, and if I was patient, slowly, I would heal, begin to grow, and become strong. I still don’t know what my mom was thinking about, but she smiled, shed a tear, and gave me a hug.

Yellowstone Grand Canyon was a similar experience, only instead of looking up, we were looking down. The water, electric blue, the walls are an orangey brown, with ledges and cracks. While breathtaking, we didn’t seem to find that spiritual connection until we looked through the eyes of a telescope somebody had set up. Through that, there was a nest, this nest was the creation of life, of something that used what was around to shelter and support its offspring. My mom said something to me about how amazing it was. I remember thanking her for being on the trip with me.

As we pulled away, I commented to my mom that I wanted to come back some day, when we could have more time.

Before getting to Old Faithful, we stopped at a small picnic area on the side of the road next to a stream. It was here that I took my turn at making lunch, while my mom wandered down the stream, having her time of thought and solitude. Even though I was making lunch, I did the same. My thoughts centered on going back to school, facing my ex, and keeping strong. As my mom wandered back, we ate quietly, not saying much, soaking in the peace and calm around us. Before long, we would be back in the car, on our way to our next stop.

Old Faithful was soon in our sites, and since we didn’t particularly care about seeing the blast, we headed to what we new would be just as breathtaking: Old Faithful Lodge. Once inside, I knew why she wanted to take me here; the building was made out of huge logs, fashioned together to create walls, staircases, fireplaces and more. The feeling was of stepping back in time, knowing that people build this, without the aid of modern technology, but with their hands, their backs, and their hearts. Sweat and tears, laughter and joy went in to making that place.

“One year, I want to bring everyone here for Christmas. Imagine being here, with the fires going, snow on the ground, and the wind whistling around us.” My mom had snuck up behind me while I was sitting in the lobby thinking about life and how fortunate we are.

“I bought some postcards to take home, was there anything else you wanted to do before we got on the road?” my mom asked me.

“Of course. It is something really important.” I replied.

“Well, what is it?” my mom asked me.

“Use the bathroom!” I said with a laugh.

With nightfall not to far around the corner, we decided we had made enough stops for the day, and needed to get to Grand Teton National Park to get camp set up. The road that connects the two parks, has a decent sized stretch between the two that is not part of either park. It was along this road, with no cars seen for miles that my mom forgot to pay attention to how fast she was going, and what the speed limit actually was. My mom was only going about fifty to fifty-five miles per hour, but wouldn’t you know, she got stopped for speeding. Apparently the stretch of road we were on had a speed limit of thirty five miles an hour. I couldn’t help but laugh at my mom, the look on her face was priceless, a combination of wanting to laugh and shock. Even when they handed her a ticket, she still looked like she was trying not to laugh.

This time we were smart, we called ahead, first thing in the morning, to make a reservation at a campsite. We didn’t want to get stuck sleeping in the car. As we set up camp, my mom and I talked about our day, what we liked, what we wanted to do again. I pulled out the map, trying to decide what way we wanted to go; knowing that we wanted to get to Denver before nightfall the next day. Picking our route was fairly easy, and knowing it would be another early morning, we decided to tuck in early.

Traveling with my mom was the best thing I had done that summer. I got to know my mom in a different light. She moved from just being my mom, to being one of my best friends on that trip.

Written during my travel writing class - Summer 2006

Garlic Shrimp and Linguini

Last night I made a really tasty linguini and shrimp dish. I didn't take any pictures of it, because I let the parsley cook too long and while it tasted great, was brown and not very pretty.
I was just kind of throwing things into a pot, because of that, there are some changes I would make for next time.

2 TBS Olive Oil
3 TBS Butter
5 Garlic Cloves Minced
1 LB Shrimp, cooked, pealed, de-veined
1 Small Bunch Parsley
Juice from Half a Lemon
1 Cup Chardonnay
1 LB Linguini
Salt and Pepper

What I actually did:
Put large pot of water on, once boiling salt the water and add linguini
In a large skillet add the olive oil, butter, and minced garlic, turning the heat on to medium. Let the pan come up to temperature, allowing the garlic to infuse the olive oil and butter, but don't let it burn.
Add the shrimp, lemon juice, wine, salt and pepper, and parsley, let simmer for 5-8 minutes.
Drain pasta and toss with shrimp and sauce.

Changes I would make next time: (in bold)
Put large pot of water on, once boiling salt the water and add linguini
In a large skillet add the olive oil, butter, and minced garlic, turning the heat on to medium. Let the pan come up to temperature, allowing the garlic to infuse the olive oil and butter, but don't let it burn.
Add lemon juice to garlic mixture, let reduce slightly, season with salt and pepper. Add the wine a few tablespoons at a time, allowing it to reduce each time. Add shrimp and heat through. Mix in the parsley at the last minute.
Toss with the drained pasta.

This dinner was really great served with a Cesar salad, one of those great salads in a bag, and a loaf of mozzarella garlic bread.

Monday, January 01, 2007


The beach along Brewster, Massachusetts, in the crook of Cape Cod, is a welcoming place to me. I find myself spending lots of time there when the time itself is available. The cool breeze, the soft sound of the waves, and the smell of the air, each bring a peaceful feeling to me.

As I walk the sand, I find that the sea spray on my face is cool and refreshing. As it hits the sand and the jetties is appears in a white foamy form. Out beyond the beach the color is a deep rich blue-green. It is inviting, with a deep dark history.

The sand squishes between my toes and leaves them feeling clean and relaxed. With every step that I take, I find myself looking at different things. There are many different seashells, from small white and pink lady slippers to steamers and scallops. We find rocks each in its own shade of color: purples, white, greens, browns, and each with its own variations. Seaweed coming in many colors and shapes is caught up in many different objects. There are many other such oddities that have come to rest on the sands.

I walk out on a jetty and find space to sit and watch the water break on the beach. Each time that the water breaks on the beach, it makes a slightly different sound. Each sounds somewhat like a whoosh, or a crash but at the same time, individual in its own way. I can look down and see the many lives of the water, from the schooling minnows, to the crabs crawling on the bottom. I can see the reflection of my face as well as the reflections of others that have stopped at the same spot as me. They have a look of awe and wonder, while some have a look of hate and distrust.

Some look upon the water as evil, and take with them something that the water wanted them too. The ocean has a great power, and likes to make sure that our population understands that even though we enjoy power, it is truly the most powerful. Water is what we need to survive, and yet it takes so many lives in so many ways. It is almost hard to find comfort in something that can be taken in a way of death and decay.

The water brings such comfort to some and such fear to others. To me it is like a welcome home when it comes to dealing with every day life stresses.

Written during my travel writing class - Summer 2006
Image Copyright September 2006 - Stanley Brinkerhoff

Bring on the New Year!

On the first day of the new year, down came the Christmas tree, away went all the decorations, and the living room has some semblance of order back in it.

Dinner tonight is super easy, its called Bertolli's Frozen Dinners! I know, I know, I should be cooking, what with the new KitchenAid immersion blender, and my Rachel Ray Furi knife set, but I just dont have that kind of ambition today.

I have been playing with updating my website, trying to figure out how I want my blog to look, and posting photos to my flickr site.