Aug 30, 2012

Africa's Painted Dog

When I was a girl, I remember watching a television program about the wild dogs of Africa.  They were beautiful to look at but lived such a hard life.  They never knew where the next meal was coming from nor were their pups safe from predators. I cried as my favorite pup struggled to survive.

Females leave their packs as young as 14-30 months and will join a pack that lacks sexually mature females so that a male will help raise the pups. The females will compete for the strongest male in the pack. Sounds a bit like what women do now, but that is my opinion.  On the other hand, males generally never leave the pack to which they were born.   

But don't let their cute little faces fool you.  These dogs are wild and could literally rip you a new one with a bite force quotient of 142 of all the carnivores except the Tasmanian Devil.  There is so much more information about these dogs on the web that I cannot begin to write all there is to know about them.  Click on the link above and it will help you to get a small bit of facts regarding these animals. 

Here is a video that was taken at the London Zoo.  Sorry but no killing of animals involved in this video. 

Aug 28, 2012

Cantigny Park: A Funny Name but Lovely to See

While visiting a friend in Illinois, I went about 20 miles from Aurora to Wheaton.

My friend told me about this wonderful park called Cantigny

The owner Robert R. McCormick left his 500 acre estate to the community in Illinois

Mr. McCormick was a long-time editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune

While there I saw lovely gardens

a tee pee

and a pot-head of a different kind

Aug 26, 2012

Be Careful About What you Think...

Be very careful about what you think.
Your thoughts run your life.
Do not tell lies with your mouth.
Don't ever say things that are not true.
Keep your eyes focused on what is right.
Keep looking straight ahead to what is good.
Be careful what you do.

Aug 24, 2012

Shelley Galbreath: Small Devotional Tackling Big Issues

Shelley Galbreath is an inspiration to me.  A petite woman with a big heart. We reach for God in many ways. Shelley does her reaching through her writing.  When I first met her, I was awed that someone with such a gift ended up working with me in an office full of constantly ringing phones. I am so glad that she did. She wrote a book called, Discouraged Mom's Devotions to Go. It is a small pocket sized book of encouragement. Haphazardly, I opened the book and the first page I see is about forgiveness. Oh this book is talking to me already.  As I read through her book, I realize that there are so many areas in my life that really needs work, especially forgiveness, which seems to be the hardest.  We never fully acheive the "godliness" in life that we would like, at least I haven't. However, we should never give up trying.  This book is small enough to keep in your purse or car to pull out whenever you need to read something uplifting and only have a few minutes.  I keep mine beside my bed.

Shelley is currently working on her first novel. 

Aug 22, 2012

Ground Meat, Rice, Vegetables, and Cream Chesse

I had a green bell pepper and a medium sized zucchini that needed to be used.  What can I make with these items that is quick and easy?  If I add ground turkey and rice then I would have a main course. I added a little cream cheese, a touch of mint, and a few Indian spices to add flavor. The results were delicious, light, and refreshing. 


For the meat:
1lb of ground turkey, chicken or beef
1 onion finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 tsp ginger
salt/pepper to taste
1 tbs each of chopped Italian parsley and cilantro
1 tsp chopped mint

In a bowl add the meat and the rest of the ingredients.  Mix well. In a medium to large skillet add about 1-2 tbs oil and brown the meat. Set aside.

For the stir fry portion:
2 cups of cooked bismati rice, prepared according to package directions
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips or small pieces
1 onion sliced thin
1 medium zucchini, cut into small cubes
1-2 tbs vegetable oil
1 tbs butter 
1/8 tsp of hot chili powder
salt/pepper to taste
1 tsp cumin  
1/2 tsp panch puran
2 tbs cream cheese, cubed

In a large skillet add the oil and butter.  Turn to medium heat.  When the pan is hot add the sliced onion and green pepper.  Saute for about 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent and the green pepper is tender.  Then add the zucchini.  Saute until the vegetables are tender.  Next, add the spices and saute for a couple of minutes to release the flavors of the spices. Add the rice, meat, and the cream cheese. Mix well. Saute for a few minutes more to heat all the way through. Serve with crispy bread. Enjoy!


Aug 20, 2012

Stuffed Green Peppers and Zucchini Moroccan Style

Here is a version of Moroccan style stuffed vegetables with any kind of ground meat that you like.  It is light and very tasty.  I used green peppers and squash, but you can use zucchini and tomatoes as well.  Those are the vegetables that I had on hand. This recipe is adapted from the book, The Food of Morocco by Tess Mallos.

You will need:

4 zucchini
2 green peppers
6 tomatoes

You can use any combination that you like.  Halve the zucchin lengthways.  Scoop out the centers and leave about 1/2 inch around the edges.  Slice the tops off of the tomatoes.  Scoop out the centers and rub the pulp through a sieve into a bowl. Add this to the tomato sauce. Remove the skins from the other two tomatoes and slice thinly.  Set aside.  Cut the peppers in half.  Remove the seeds and the membranes.

Ingredients for stuffing:

2 tbs olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ginger
2 dashes of cinnamon
salt/pepper to taste
1 lb of ground meat, lamb, turkey, or chicken
1 tbs Italian parsley, chopped
2 tsp chopped mint
1/4 cup of short grain rice
1 cup of water

Put the oil in a large skillet on medium heat.  When it is hot, add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes.  Then add the garlic, ginger, cinnamon, pepper, salt, parsley, mint, and meat.  Mix well.  Cook until the meat is brown.  Try to break the meat into small pieces. Add 1 cup of water and bring to a boil.  Then add the rice.  Cover and simmer over low heat until the rice is tender and the water has been absorbed.  Set aside.

Ingredients for the tomato sauce:

1 tbs olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 large tomato, peeled and chopped
2 tbs tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
1 tbs lemon or lime juice
1/2 cup of water

Mix all of the ingredients together and set aside.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly fill the vegetables with the stuffing.  Fill the bottom of a zucchini and cover with an unfilled top.  Secure them with toothpicks. Fill the tomatoes and replace the tops.  Fill the green peppers.  Arrange in an ovenproof dish.  Add the tomato slices to the tops of the vegetables. (I forgot to do this part, sorry) Pour in the sauce, cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes, then remove the foil, baste with sauce and cook for 10 minutes or until tender.  Enjoy!

Aug 18, 2012

How to Make Paneer: India's Famous Cheese

My brother's girlfriend is a very good cook. She makes things that are considered outside of the box, which I love. Ashley loves Indian food, especially paneer.  She tried a curry dish with paneer at one of our local restaurants and was hooked. The addiction was so bad that she spent all of her extra money (even some of her bill money too!) going to this restaurant.  Eventually, she found a recipe to duplicate what she had at the restaurant.  But first we need to make the paneer.  It is a cheese that looks similar to cottage cheese.  Once it is pressed then it looks like normal cheese.  It is mild tasting and is so easy to make.  The key to making paneer is using whole milk or half and half.  The more fat that is in the milk the better.  You can make it with 2% but the taste is better with whole milk.  


6-8 cups of whole milk or half and half or use equal amounts of milk and cream
1/4 cup of lemon juice
1/2 cup water
Cheese cloth or muslin for straining
salt to taste

Place a large pot on medium heat.  Add the milk. Bring to a boil. Stir occasionally so that it doesn't burn.

Once it comes to a boil add the lemon juice in 1\2 cup of water.  Immediately the milk will curdle and curds will come to the top.  If at any time there isn't enough curds add more lemon juice in water and add while stirring.  Stir gently so that the curds come together.

Use cheesecloth or muslin and line a colander (strainer) with it.  Pour the milk and curds mixture into the colander and rinse with cold water.

Then squeeze the excess water out of the paneer while it is still in the muslin or cheesecloth. Remove the cheese from the cheesecloth and knead for a couple of minutes so that it will stick together and is not crumbly. At this point you can add salt and any spices that you think would be good in it. I added some chives, but you can put in roasted cumin seeds, black pepper, chopped cilantro, chopped green chilies, or whatever you like in your cheese.  Put the cheese back in the cloth and put it on a plate.  You will want to press it with a heavy pan or use two plates and put cans of vegetables on top.  Put in the fridge for about two hours. The final product will be a nice disk of cheese.  Enjoy!

Aug 16, 2012

Edward Steichen: A Photographer Before His Time

Before I started blogging, I enjoyed looking at photographs.  It always intrigued me how the photographer was able to capture the perfect shot. 

Gloria Swanson
I heard that Ansel Adams would stay at a location all day just to wait for the "right" conditions in order to get the shot he wanted.

Elizabeth Meyer
In 1923, Vanity Fair said that Edward Steichen was one of the greatest living portrait photographers.  He set about transforming the look of fashion magazines by accepting the post of chief photographer for Conde Nast Publications. 

In his early years he created softly focused, expressive images. He created beautiful portraits without out the help of a digital camera.  He published a book called The Family of Man in 1955.  This book is comprised of pictures he has taken all over the world. As human beings, we all have the same hopes and dreams, no matter where we come from.

Loretta Young
There is only one man in the world
and his name is All Men.
There is only one woman in the world
and her name is All Women.
There is only one child in the world
and the child's name is All Children. 

Aug 14, 2012

Paula Wolfert and Alia Making Warka

I have used philo dough a lot but found that it is difficult to work with because it dries out so quickly and breaks apart.  Paula Wolfert and Alia from Cooking with Alia got together and made a couple of videos that I would like to share with you.  Paula told me this morning that she used a Anolon 12 inch griddle that she purchased from Amazon.  I need to find a griddle and will try making this very soon and will post the results.  It is exciting to try something new. 

This is part 1

This is part 2

I like to hear the voice of people that I have found intriguing.  It is then that they seem more real and are like you and I.  

Aug 12, 2012

Finding Nouf: A Story of Bad Intentions

I've recently finished the book Finding Nouf by Zoe Ferraris.  Finding Nouf is a story of murder, religion, culture, and intentions.  Islam is ever present in the lives of the characters of this story. Nayir ash-Sharqi is a desert guide but is called by the family to lead a search party for Nouf, a girl of sixteen, who eventually was found dead by desert travelers.  She had everything going for her.  Her family was rich and she was about to be married. Why would someone want to kill her?  Life between men and women are separate.  Women are covered from head to toe, remaining a mystery to the male members of society. Nayir meets up with Katya Hijazi, who works at the coroner's office. Together they solve the mystery of Nouf's death.

I feel that the story is more about intentions and how painful life can be for those who are wronged.  Desperation can cause seemingly good people to do very bad things.  When Katya told Nayir that she would marry someone so that she could have the freedoms for which she longed for, it struck a chord with me.  This kind of thing happens all of the time in our world.  Heartless acts of desperation with no care for the innocent victim they have ensnared.  This is a good book and is well written.  I am currently reading her next book called City of Veils

Aug 10, 2012

Aebelskivers: A Danish Delight

Did you know that my co-workers make fun of me?  Yes, they do. I am considered a Culinary Oddity. I come to work and tell them about all of the different foods that I make. I bring in things so that they can taste my latest new find. Would you believe that some of them have even had fights over who was going to get the leftover tajine that I had brought in the day before. So, I am not really the odd one, am I?  I have discovered aebelskivers, also spelled ebelskivers. They are tiny pancakes that are cooked in a special pan from Denmark. I found a recipe in our local Sunday newspaper and have kept the recipe until I could find a pan. I had an ordeal with just trying to purchase the pan.  A company sent me a aebelskiver made of cast iron.  When it arrived the handle was broken. Really? It is iron for pitty sake. They shipped the pan in a double vanilla bubble wrap envelope.  I was furious. The pan was obviously shipped damaged. While the company claimed it came from the manufacturer in that condition. I sent it back at their expense.  Then I ordered another pan from a different company and it arrived safely and in perfect condition.  Enough ranting about the pan.  The best part of all of this is eating this wonderful little pancake.  The recipe makes about 48.  I ate eight of them all by myself, with guilt setting in. What am I going to do with the rest of these, I thought.  I then took the same amount to my neighbor and she gobbled those up too.  The remainder I took over to my sister.  It was roughly 30 abelskivers that I hand delivered for her breakfast. She ate all of them by herself. 


3 eggs, beaten
2 cups of milk
2 cups of cake flour
2 tsp sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Crisco and butter in equal amounts mixed together for greasing the pan
powdered sugar, for dusting

Combine the eggs, milk, flour sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat until the batter is similar in consistency to pancake batter. Add more flour if needed.

Place the aebelskiver pan over medium heat.  Add enough of the crisco and butter mixture to the molds until each is about 1/3 full.  When the mixture sizzles, add enough batter to reach the mold top.  Do this for each of the molds. 

Cook for about 3 minutes or until a brown shell has formed around the bottom of each mold.  Flip the abelskivers.

Cook for 3 minutes more or until well browned on other side.  Remove from pan.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Serve warm and with extra powdered sugar for dipping. After you eat half, dip the rest in the extra sugar. Enjoy!

Aug 8, 2012

Simple Cucumber Salad

One of my co-workers loves a cucumber salad that we get at a Chinese restaurant down the street from where we work.  I often give her mine because she likes it so much.  However, the last time we had it, I thought that I could duplicate the recipe, if that is what you can call it.  There are only 4 ingredients to the whole thing.  It is so cool and refreshing. It goes well with most any kind of cuisine.


2 cups of cold water
2 medium cucumbers, seeded and cut into 1\2 inch slices
2 TBS white vinegar
4 TBS granulated sugar

Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl.  Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled.  Serves 4.  Enjoy!

Aug 6, 2012

Will how I dress cause me to go to hell?

I just recently read an article about religious clothing.  Many little girls are forced to wear a veil in Morocco so that they will not be harassed. One little girl's mother said that she needs to get used to it while she is young, otherwise she will go to hell.

We have this same kind of thinking here in the states.  There are Amish people, penecostals, and Jews, while there are probably many more groups that I cannot think of at the moment. Each group believes that they are the "chosen ones". Aren't we all chosen?  I have been told that if I didn't wear a dress or skirt all of the time I, too, would go to hell.  Really? Oh no, you cannot wear makeup either. Why do women have to sacrifice so much in this life?

Do you think that God\Allah is so concerned about our outward appearance that we would be sentenced to a life of torment?  Maybe this is hell already.  We seem to go to extremes to try and please God.  What about our hearts?  What about living a pure life, where we try to be "good"? I just don't understand people.  We are supposed to be individuals.  Yet we live our lives according to what "they" are doing or live how "they" say we are to live.  Do you understand what I am talking about? We rely on religious leaders to guide us.  Yet we have the same connection to God\Allah as they do. 

What we wear really has nothing to do with the next life.  Many times it is a prideful thing.  You are saying, "look at me, I am religious, I have a connection with the Almighty".  What are your thoughts?   

Aug 3, 2012

Baked Vegetable Casserole

Summertime is for taking it easy and cooking simple meals.  This is one of my favorite recipes. I have been cooking this for years and thought that I would share it with you.  Serve this with meat, fish, or chicken.  I served this with baked Swai, which is a very mild flavored fish.  The key to this recipe is placing the potatoes on the bottom of the casserole dish so that they will get done as quickly as the zucchini and the tomato, otherwise the tomatoes will be mushy.


2 zucchini, sliced about 1/2 inch thick
3-4 roma tomatoes, cut into quarters
2 large potatoes, sliced in 1/4 inch slices ( I used red skin potatoes)
2 tsp garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
salt/pepper to taste
1 1/2 tbs basil, chopped or 1/2 tsp dried
a pinch  or two of oregano

Prehead the oven to 400 degrees. Toss together all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Place in a lightly oil casserole dish.  Make sure that the potatoes are on the bottom. They will cook quicker on the bottom of the dish. Bake for 35 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.  Serve warm.  Enjoy!

Aug 2, 2012


I've just learned about a little movie that is very popular on YouTube.  It is entitled: Super.Full.  The story is of a deaf man and his wife and the great sacrifice that he made for her birthday. It is only 13 minutes long, so take a break and watch it.  You will really enjoy it.

Aug 1, 2012

Peanut-Mango Coleslaw

I think that I need to share more American recipes on here, after all, I am American and very proud of it.  Here is a different version of the classic American coleslaw.  When I think of coleslaw, I think of a salad that is creamy, crunchy, and has a slight sweet taste.  This version has all of that plus a bit more crunch and a fruitiness to it.  


3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 TBS Kraft Zesty Italian dressing, or plain Italian dressing is fine
1/2 head of cabbage, shredded
1/4 head of red cabbage, shredded
1/2 large carrot, chopped fine
1 mango, chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onions
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts

Mix the mayonnaise and Italian dressing in a bowl. Next, add the rest of the ingredients except the peanuts and mix lightly. If you find that this is too tart for your taste, add a little bit of sugar to acquire the taste you prefer.  Refrigerate 1 hour.  Sprinkle with nuts when you are ready to serve.

Cooks Note:  You can use 1 package of coleslaw blend from the grocer if you don't want to shred the cabbage and chop the carrot.  It will require a 14 ounce bag.