No More Empty Fortune Cookies!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Who Said Pasta Has to Come From a Box?

I told you that Sally Sue is a puppy school delinquent, right?
In her first three weeks of school she missed two classes, so yesterday we made up one of them. It was pretty fun to have the one on one time with the trainer, and Sally really loved all of the personalized attention.
It was a little bit somber, though, as we found out that one of Sally's classmates suffered a horrible accident last week, and passed away. Poor little Bailey. She was a real trooper, too. She was the tiniest little puppy in the class, still fitting in the palm of her "momma's" hand, yet she was always willing to get right in there with all the "big dogs" like Sally Sue and Care Bear and Bristol. Little ole' Bailey didn't let her tiny size get in the way of her doing anything.
My heart goes out to Bailey's family.
The day made a 180 degree turn though.
Last night was a real hoot and a half!
At the last minute we ended up with plans for friends to come over and I decided to try out a new pasta recipe I found, given the willing guinea pigs for my culinary experiments.
Wine was consumed. Laughter was shared. Stories were told.
And, the Wifester and I met a new friend. *waves at ya!*
It's always a good time when we gather with these folks, and last night was no exception.
It's good to have good friends, the kind of friends who you know well and know you well. The kind of friends you can laugh with, cry with, and even bitch and complain with when need be.
Sometimes the Wifester and I can get so caught up in our own routines that we forget to make time in our lives to nurture those friendships with outside people. We need to remember to do that more.
Oh, and the pasta? Primo! I mean, you know you aren't getting away from this blog without a recipe after I tell you how I cooked something new, right?

So here's the low down on my Home Made Seafood Ravioli

First, for the pasta. Now, honestly, I thought making the pasta itself would be a lot more difficult than it proved to be. Once again, I have to give props to my Kitchen Aid! Still the
Best. Present. EVER.
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
5 eggs
1 tsp. olive oil
a splash of water (just enough to make the dough soft and pliable)

I simply dumped all of this into my mixer bowl, turned it on and let it mix for for a couple of minutes with the mixing attachment, then switched out for the dough attachment and left it to kneed for 10 minutes. Then let it sit for about 20 minutes which allows the proteins in the dough to relax and makes rolling much easier. Rest the dough covered under the mixing bowl so it doesn't dry out too much.
The dough is a little moist, and for the ravioli, this works perfectly.

While the dough is sitting, you can make your filling. I chose crab, lobster, mushrooms, spinach, ricotta cheese, garlic and onion. Mostly because it is still Lent, and though I don't adhere to the rules, my guests do. Next time, though, I think I'll try these with my home made Italian sausage and red sauce, YUM!
I sauteed my onions until almost translucent, added the garlic, seasoned with Creole seasoning, but you can really experiment here and use whatever you like. Then I added the mushrooms and my diced crab meat, lobster and cooked chopped spinach. Let this cook for about 5-10 minutes, just until the seafood is done, then add the ricotta cheese. Let it incorporate well and then pour it into a nice big bowl and carry it to the area where you are working with your dough.
I rolled the dough out to about 1/8 inch thick and used a small juice glass to cut little circles, and set them aside. When they are all cut out and ready, drop a spoon full of the crab meat mixture into the center of a pasta circle, place another pasta circle on top, smash the edges together all the way around making sure to completely seal it. If you need to, you can dip your fingers in water to help seal the edges. Place each completed ravioli on a tray or towel to dry. When finished filling all the raviolis, you can boil them in water, or as I did, in chicken stock. I like boiling pasta in chicken stock. It gives it a nice light hint of flavor. Try it sometime!
raw, stuffed ravioli, waiting to be boiled

You'll know when they are done, they'll pop up to the top! Fish the floating ones out and set them aside. I placed them in a casserole dish and poured Alfredo sauce over them, one layer at a time as they came out of the chicken stock. Then I topped the whole thing off with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Let me tell you, I may never buy Bertoli's again!

Sorry, we were all just too busy eating them up to get any photos of the raviolis after they boiled and had the sauce on them...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Easy Cheese Danish

Don't you just love cheese danishes? I do.
They are probably one of my favorite dessert items ever. I was looking for something easy and yummy to make for a dessert recently and I found in my fridge some cream cheese, blueberries, and a couple of cans of crescent rolls. The light bulb went off.
Let me walk you through these steps, because I assure you, if you love sweet, creamy, fluffy, cheese danishes, you'll want to make these!
First, put your 8 oz pkg of cream cheese (softened) in the mixer and add a splash of vanilla and about a cup of powdered sugar, then let that blend until creamy and smooth. Next, take one can of crescent rolls, divide it, keeping two rolls attached to each other, dip them in melted butter, and smooth them out in the bottom of a greased casserole dish, repeat with the next two and so on until the bottom of the dish is lined. Smash the edges together a little. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon on top. Spread the cream cheese mixture over these rolls. Now you can be creative, add whatever fruit you want. I had blueberries so I dumped them on top and spread them out. Strawberries or blackberries would be yum, too! Now repeat the crescent roll process with your second can of rolls, tucking the edges down to meet the edges of the bottom layer. Pour melted butter over the top - don't be stingy! Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon on top and bake this at 350 for about 20-25 minutes, until the top is golden and flaky. Once cools off a bit, you can place it in the fridge and it really firms up nicely! Here's mine, after being refrigerated, and after the Wifester and I tested it.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


There's another empty house on our street. For such a small cul-de-sack, the occupied home to empty home ratio is precariously teetering in unfavorable ways these days.
I would just shrug my shoulders and say meh, but I want our house to sell. I like to try to look at the positive aspect of all things, and so far, the best positive aspect I can find is that at least there won't be 4 or 5 cars parked in the yard of that house (as was always the case before they vacated it) when people come to look at this house. On the down side I am not seeing any for sale sign, no for rent sign. No sign of anyone doing any renovations before placing that house on the market. Nada.

From all I can tell, that house has been, much like so many others, simply abandoned.

I'm not really sure which is better, a neglected, abandoned yard or one with 5 cars parked all akimbo across it.
I worry for my community, seeing so many empty houses.
I worry for my future. I worry.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Feminist Anonymous?

Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pitman Hughes, circa 1970
Photograph by Dan Wynn.

I got a text from Lilley asking if I'd like to go with her to a Women's History Month lecture at her school.
The speaker would be Gloria Steinem.

Are you kidding me? Would I like to go? That's like asking if a puppy wants a treat or if a bee wants some honey!

I often talk about the overt, obvious ways that I witnessed repression and misogyny in my own home growing up. I'll always remember my father telling my mother who to vote for, and my mother obeying, even when it seemed to be contrary to her own wishes.
It seems to be in life that the negatives, such as that, stand out in our minds much more vividly than the positives. At least for me they do. I wonder what that's all about.

But with the mention of a lecture by Gloria Steinem, my memory raced back to my MS magazines. I remember my mom sitting down with me when I asked for a subscription to one of the glamor magazines, I don't really remember which one now, but she sat down with me and said she would be happy to get me a subscription, but she would rather I get a magazine with some substance. We looked over a few choices and with a little bit of urging from my mom, I ended up with a subscription to MS.
I can remember reading through those magazines and trying to resolve the discrepancy of a mother who simultaneously denied herself her own voice in the voting booth and gave her daughter such a powerful tool to add to an already growing arsenal. My mother instilled in me, at a very early age, the importance of my femininity. She showed me that even though she seemed to play by my father's rules, I could make my own. When I said I wanted to play soccer on that boy's team, she signed me up. When I said I wanted to ride the dirt bike, she bought me a helmet. And later, when I said I wanted to write, she taught me to type. It didn't matter to my mom one way or the other. She had been in the Army, she had played filed hockey, she had coached softball. My mom was one tough cookie.

I suppose my mom would probably cringe today to know that it was her idea for that subscription for MS magazine that greatly influenced me to be who I am now. But that's OK, because as much as it makes her cringe, it fills my heart with gratitude.

Last night, I was able to bring that with me and listen to one of my all time heroes talk about topics that stir my passions. I was moved listening to Gloria's speech, read by stand in's, because Gloria, although present, was suffering a terrible case of laryngitis. I was a bit sad that I didn't get to hear her speech in her voice, and wondered how the inflection would have varied had she have given it, or what ad-lib there might have been...But all in all, it was an enlightening, delightful, and thought provoking speech. Gloria was present, and she did participate in a Q&A after. That was the highlight, at least for me.

She discussed everything from health care to domestic violence. She discussed the isms: racism, genderism, classism. And how we created them, so we can defeat them.
I loved how she explained her conflict with topics such as abortion, stating that every child deserves a chance to be born and live a life, but at the same time, every woman has a right to decide what happens within her own body, and how it really is such a personal issue. I connect so deeply with her message of changing society to fit people, rather then changing people to fit society, and I just loved her analogy that we are like flowers, some of us are daises, and some are petunias and some are lilies. We're all flowers, just different kinds. But society tries to make the lilies and petunias look and act like daises instead of simply appreciating them for just what they are.

I thought about what question I would ask Mrs. Steinem, if given the mic, and all I could think was, how on earth did she motivate and maintain momentum with so many people for so many years? I mean, I tried to get a marriage equality rally together and sent out thousands of fliers, emails, phone calls, twitters, you name it and all that showed up was the Wifester, myself, one reporter and a couple of guys who drove by and said they would be back with their signs, but never came. And then she answered my question without even being asked. She said these movements started with small groups of women who gathered to talk. Talks turned to what was wrong, then turned to what should be changed, then to how it could be changed. She suggests that groups, small groups so that every voice can be heard, groups no larger than about 20 people - should be gathering to discuss topics of equality and rights. She suggested, and I loved, that there should be a network, not much unlike AA, in which people could know that no matter where they traveled, they could look up the network and find a meeting of other people with similar ideas.

Feminists Anonymous. I love it!

Gloria Steinem exemplifies a lifetime spent in service to us, to mankind. Not just "us" the women, but us, the human race. She has fought for the rights of African Americans when it was physically dangerous to do so. She has fought for the rights of gays and lesbians, from demanding more focus on AIDS treatment, to the right to serve in our military to the right to marry and adopt children. She stands up for the battered woman who has lost her voice. She fights for the children who have no one else to fight for them.

She teaches us to question, to think, and to act.

I am very grateful for the opportunity to listen to one of my personal heroes, and I will cherish the memory, utilize the knowledge gained and remember her words for the rest of my life.

Thank you Lilley!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Engaged volunteers needed for LGBT marriage research

Christina Reitz-Krueger, a Doctoral Student asked me to post this message:

I am looking for volunteers for a study of attitudes towards marriage and parenthood among engaged couples. The study consists of a 25-30 minute online survey. To qualify for the study, you must be 20-35 years old, live in the U.S., and plan to marry or have a commitment ceremony within the next 365 days. You and your romantic partner must not have children, and this must be the first marriage for both of you.

You can:

-Help a doctoral candidate;

-Increase the pool of scientific knowledge;

-Support research on marriage and families; and

-Spend some time thinking about your relationship!

I am working with Dr. Charlotte J. Patterson, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia. This study has been approved by the University of Virginia Institutional Review Board #2009025800.

If you and/or your romantic partner are interested in participating or want further information, please email me at I will send you a link that you can use to access the study.


Cristina Reitz-Krueger

Doctoral Student

University of Virginia

(434) 243-8558