Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Rainbow Salad for the Maple Bar Soul

Today was D-Day for my husband...Doctor Day. My other half is one of those people who has only visited the doctor a small handful of times in his entire life. When he was a 6 month old baby, his parents brought him and his brother on a 13 hour flight from Manila to the small casino town of Reno. They were crashing at his uncle's place when my baby husband suddenly took a turn for the worse. With no job yet to pay a bill and no car to take them anywhere, his parents walked him quite a distance to the hospital. Fortunately, he recovered if only slightly orange from the copious amounts of carrot juice prescribed (for what?).

Then there was the time he fell off a swing and broke his elbow...but it took a few days to ascertain that it was broken. He might have got a band-aid out of the deal, but certainly not a doctor. I mean, what were they going to do, put a cast on an elbow??

The man hasn't thrown up since 7th grade, can you believe it?

I convinced him to visit my naturopathic doctor once, but then she got a little freaky for him when she asked him which of the bottles of supplements he was leaning toward. Like, did he have a feeling that he take one more than the other. Uh...aren't you the doctor? (on a side note...I love my doctor and think she's great, but I've never had the "make a choice" treatment)

After months of knowing for certain that things weren't as they should be, he finally decided to make the call. Nothing serious (no lumps or anything), only severe pains in his toe and thumb. New shoes were prescribed for the toes.

But the blood pressure cuff told a different did that pesky tape measure. He was solidly marching in the heart disease direction, obviously not the band he wanted to play with.

So, now I feel like I should apologize for all the butter we've ingested this year. But I'm not taking responsibility for those donuts. Let the record show that I've NEVER said, "We should make donuts, honey." And anything in the deep fryer was his, too. Unfortunately, the vast majority of heavy cream and sweets fall into my court. Say goodbye to bacon-topped maple bars.

Tonight, however, I started with vegetables and made a veritable rainbow for dinner. Beets roasted in balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and garlic. Fruit salad of nectarines, plums, and kiwis dressed with a little orange juice and some honey. Oven-roasted, then broiled, tilapia with fresh chives, oregano, and thyme from my garden.

But the show-stopper tonight was this veggie salad I improvised. And the great thing is, you could substitute anything you like in here.

Rainbow Salad

In a bowl, combine:

3 ears of corn, boiled 5 minutes, then cut the kernels off with a sharp knife.

A handful of cherry tomatoes, quartered.

1 red pepper, diced.

Saute, then add to the bowl:

1 small summer squash, chopped
1 small leek, halved and chopped
2 medium carrots, diced
a few fresh peas, shells removed

When those are tender, combine all the veggies together. Then whip up a dressing. Lime would be good, but I was out. So I made a vinaegrette.

Whisk together:

1/4 c olive oil
2-3 TB red wine vinegar (to taste)
salt and pepper

Add any of the following:

chili powder

Drizzle over the salad and mix gently. Let it sit for a few minutes to soak up the flavors.

That dinner was one step back in the right direction. I guess my Julie Jams theme this year is going to be to get on the health train. This is your body on pre-middle-age...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Anniversary Edition

Happy Anniversary! Julie Jams is officially one year old!

And what a year it's been. My baby went from zero to walking, my eldest completed kindergarten. I cooked so many new things, both successfully and of course, dismal failures. I thought a little recap might be in order.

It all started with a Julie Jams video where I demonstrated making strawberry jam. Little did y'all know, but that was my first time. And there was a screaming newborn in the background...hence the music dubbed over everything.

Julie Jams Making Strawberry Jam from Arnan Films on Vimeo.

I moved on to some of my summer favorites...Quinoa Salad, Jicama Salad. Orange Olive Salad was amazing!

There were attempts to be part of Tuesdays with Dorie. Those recipes usually went horribly wrong, except maybe for the Tarte Tatin. That was tasty. But come to find out I was doing the whole Dorie thing incorrectly anyways. Our friendship suffered because of it!

The lamb chops are one of our favorites now. Hmmm...note to self...put those on the menu soon.

Julie Jams was chosen for FoodBuzz's November 24, 24, 24 showcasing not one, but two Thanksgiving dinners prepared in my "Local & Homemade vs. Store Bought & Prepared" post. Wow, that was a ton of work, wasn't it sis?

One of the highlights for me was the Christmas Eve Beef Wellington. I wrapped my beef tenderloin in homemade brioche, copying an episode of Rick Steves' Christmas in Europe (France for this one). The meat turned out so great (praise the Lord, considering it was like an $80 piece of meat!). The N-O-E-L on top was my favorite part. This one is a tradition starter...only, I may try it with puff pastry this year.

I made biscuits and scones by the truckload.

And muffins, cookies, and cakes (Lazy Daisy Cake and Vanilla Cake came up a lot).

Bread pudding, pizza, pasta parties. Wait a I know why my jeans are still feeling tight. These recipes represent a whole lotta baking (bread and butter...those are the names of each thigh, respectively).

Oh, and a couple of Julie Jams Cooking Classes..."The Magic Chicken" showcasing the versatility of a whole chicken and "Wild and Crazy Salads".

Hunger Action Week had several local bloggers using the food stamps budget to feed our families for the week. It was an interesting exercise in planning and organization and also revealed a well of self-righteousness in my heart.

The most popular posts really surprised me....Homemade donuts tops the list. I slapped a less than stellar photo up thinking everyone would ignore it, but instead it made the FoodBuzz Top 9 for the day and has over 400 views now. It seems the simplest sweets are everyone's favorite because my Double Chocolate Cookies soared up the charts as well. What about the fancy stuff? Hmmm...I guess I should stick with the favorites to achieve popularity.

But I've never been good with popularity, hence my angsty fame-crushing post on why I don't like the label "Foodie". Oh well, at least it generated some conversation.

I love hearing back from the readers, especially those who actually made one of my recipes. And I apologize profusely if they don't turn out perfectly (I still don't know what went wrong with that Easter ham, W!). Until recently, we didn't have a commenting system allowing me to reply to least in a way where it would get sent to them. But we've updated the site, so hopefully I'll get into the rhythm of responding to everyone. Sorry if you felt snubbed in the past!

Speaking of faithful readers, or in particular commenters, I'd like to give a loud shout out to Jenn, Alice, and Gretchen for being my most vocal readers. Thanks for your feedback!

And thanks to FoodBuzz for sending me to two super cool events...Seattle Food and Wine Experience and Taste Washington! The whole VIP pass was a very rockstar moment for me!

And of course, I was super excited to be picked for June's 24, 24, 24, celebrating my 30th birthday at Dog Mountain Farm. A fabulous night.

So, it seemed fitting to celebrate my first anniversary by making a little jam. With the 1 1/2 flats of berries provided by my mom, I mashed, stirred, and boiled the night away making 14 pints...9 raspberry and 5 strawberry. I felt lucky to get those strawberries yesterday at Kirkland's Wednesday Market (there was only one vendor with strawberries). And thanks to Sidhu farms for the flat of raspberries...if you buy in bulk you may just get a little discount!

Finally, thank you to my husband for all those long hours of putting this blog together. For figuring out html code, networking tirelessly, liking all my jokes (good or bad), and dealing with "the talent" (ha!).

Who knows what this year will hold? I am going to be teaching some art classes in the fall, but no doubt I'll still be cooking. I've got the bug now...can't...stop...

Thanks for Jamming with Julie. It's been fun!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Finding Our Way to..."The Island"

Typing tonight is a little difficult as I frequently must pull my hair up off my neck to let in the breeze. Except there is no breeze, the air is hot and close. These are the conditions we endure for such a beautiful day in Seattle.

Since my husband got the day off, we decided to take advantage and get out of town. Usually we lounge around or clean the house, but not today. We got up and out to the ferry, shuttling us to Bainbridge Island.

I've only been there a couple of times, both when I was in high school. So my memory of it was a little on the fuzzy side. But to my husband, it sounded like some sort of magical island of fun (he's often enamored with the unknown...a glass half full kind of guy). We brought along the kids' bikes thinking that maybe we'd rent some for ourselves and bike around, like a trial run for our upcoming vacation to Sun River.

Since the trunk was full of bikes, we neglected to bring a stroller and had to lug the baby the pizza joint, the playground, the "waterfront park" (oh, yeah, not a lake and smells like low tide). Finally, we drive over to the bicycle shop only to find out it costs like $25 per bike to rent one! Sorry, but $50 for a bike ride is not my favorite idea of how to spend money.

The kids were a little crushed as they had been looking forward to that bike ride. So, we took them over to the local elementary school parking lot for a ride around "Mario Circuit". That lasted about 10 minutes. Then we packed up and drove back to the ferry, thinking that 3 hours on the island was a modest success.

Honestly, the ferry ride was everyone's favorite part. Especially since the kids got those gross Drumstick ice cream cones on the way back. The city is fun to watch as it comes into focus. And there were lots of sailboats to admire on the way.

All that exploring sapped every last ounce of energy out of me. My son and I (being the whitest members of the family) turn red and literally melt in the bright sunlight. The whine turns on full blast. Can't wait for that future trip to the Philippines...that ought to be about a 12 on the 1-10 scale of pleasantness!

But I digress...dinner needed to be simple and quick. I boiled a big pot of water for some bow-tie pasta. Meanwhile, I cleaned some veg for a great big pasta salad.

Pasta with Summer Sauce

Boil a lot of salted water. Add:

1 pound bow-tie pasta (or other chunky pasta)

Let it cook a couple of minutes. When it comes back to a boil, add:

2 c green beans, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces

Boil 8-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop up the veg for the salad. Combine in a bowl:

2 c cherry tomatoes, quartered (a mixture is pretty)
1/4 c minced parsley
1/2 c minced red onion
1/4 c chopped black olives
2 TB minced fresh basil
1/4 c olive oil
1 tsp salt (may need more)
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp balsamic vinegar

When the pasta is cooked, drain and add the pasta/beans to the bowl of salad items. Sprinkle on:

1/4-1/2 c feta cheese, crumbled

Mix gently. Serve warm, room temp, or cooled. My leftovers are becoming 4th of July picnic food tomorrow.

Happy Independence Day! Or should I say, "Have a safe and sane 4th..." (that's my favorite party dampening slogan).
julie.jams' items Go to julie.jams' photostream

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