The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me. ~ Psalm 16:6 nasb

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Bay Seasoned Brown Rice Pilaf

This is one of my favorite side dishes!  It's simple to make, tastes amazing, accompanies pretty much any main dish I make, and every one of my guys loves it.  Bam!

I'm a big fan of pre-assembly.  I mix my rices (brown and wild), salt, and bay leaves in one prep bowl, then chicken broth (or water/chicken bouillon) in another.  Then all I have to do is sauté the onion, add the rice, and add the water/stock.  Bring it all to a boil and let it simmer for 45 minutes.  Easy.

One note:  Don't substitute white rice.  Since it cooks faster, the wild rice won't have a chance to cook and will end up crunchy.  Brown rice is healthier, anyway, so use it!

Ingredients waiting on the onion to be sauteed.

Heating up.

Bring to boil, then simmer.

For church meals, I put this in my slow cooker and keep on warm.

Bay-Seasoned Brown Rice Pilaf
Serves 6-8 (guys!)
Halve the recipe for a smaller amount.  Keeps in fridge nicely.

1 tablespoon butter (I just use a small glob)
1/4 cup chopped onion (I finely dice it to "hide" it from the onion-haters)

2 cups brown rice
6 tablespoons wild rice
1 teaspoon sea salt (less if you're using strong stock or bouillon)
4-6 bay leaves (depends on size of leaves and how strong a bay flavor you like)

4 1/2 cups water (add chicken bouillon) or chicken/beef stock

In a three-quart saucepan, sauté the onion in the butter just until it starts to brown.  Add the rice, wild rice, sea salt, and bay leaves; stir.  Add the water/stock.  Bring to boil, cover and reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.  Don't lift the lid during cooking time!

Fluff with fork; put lid back on and wait five minutes or so before serving.

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Friday, March 25, 2016

Homemade Pasta

There is no comparison.  None whatsoever.  Fresh pasta is amazing.

Fresh homemade ravioli.

It's not that hard to make, either, if you have an hour or so.  Once you make it a time or two, an hour is all you need for fresh spaghetti, linguine, or other noodle.  I find that if I halve the recipe, I've got enough pasta for fettuccine (my preferred cut for my hand-crank pasta machine) for our weekly Pasta Day, which happens to be on Friday.

Ravioli, filled with ricotta/mozzarella mixture.

My photos are of our New Year's ravioli dinner, which my mom and I slaved over--mostly because I added too much water to the recipe, and we ended up with a ton of pasta dough!  We worked all afternoon making these, and ended up freezing some plus cranking out some plain fettuccine as well.

The quickest recipe is for plain pasta noodles, whatever cut you desire.  I favor fettuccine, since my hand-crank pasta machine's setting for spaghetti usually produces a mess, and the fettuccine width is the only other width available.  I'm going to try a special rolling pin with grooves for some other cuts; I'll update this when that happens.

For now, here is my recipe.

Homemade Pasta

2 cups semolina flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, well beaten
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
~1 cup cold water

Make in a Bosch Universal Mixer or other stand mixer (instructions are for the Bosch).

Mix the two flours and the salt together in mixer bowl.  Insert the bread dough hook and turn on speed 1.  Add in the eggs and evoo, and--while continuing to mix--pour in the cold water in a stream.  As the mixer works harder to mix, turn it up to speed 3 and continue to mix until a ball of dough forms.  Add cold water or flour as needed 3-5 minutes.  You should have a soft, smooth ball of dough.

Turn out dough onto floured surface and cover with a towel.  Let rest five minutes.  Break off a piece of dough, about the size of a half-cup measure and dust with flour.  It's now ready to be shaped using your pasta machine; follow your pasta machine instructions for shaping into lasagna noodles, spaghetti/fettuccine, etc.

Storing and Cooking Fresh Pasta
I've done all of these with wonderful success!

For immediate use.

Bring a pot of water to a boil; add your pasta noodles with a teaspoon or so of salt (this enhances the flavor, do not omit it!!).  Boil 3-7 minutes or so, depending on the width and thickness of your pasta, and how al dente you like it.  Test it early and add boiling time as needed.  Drain in a colander; drizzle with evoo and toss to prevent sticking.


Use a pasta drying rack to dry your noodles; simply drape them over the rods and let dry 24 hours or so.  Store in a cool, dry place in airtight bags or containers.


Lay your noodles out, curling/folding them back and forth so they'll fit in a freezer bag.  Or you can coil them, too.  The idea is to not have them in a messy, congealed pile that will cook into a gooey mass.  It is key that you quickly dredge each pasta sheet in flour before you cut it into noodles; this will prevent sticking even if you end up with a pile of pasta in your freezer bag.  Put your freshly cut noodles into a freezer bag, then simply freeze.  These can go straight from the freezer into boiling water, or you can let them sit in your fridge to thaw first.

Whole-wheat spaghetti.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Life takes unexpected turns every now and again.  Last week, I expected to spend the week with the guys, cooking for them and getting stuff done at home while Fernando drove up to Grand Rapids, Michigan to cover a college hockey tournament.  I drove up to a women's Bible study on Wednesday night, and just before leaving home, I received a text:   

I have shivers & a mild fever...flu?? 

Knowing Fernando had planned on driving up to Grand Rapids super early on Friday morning, and knowing that those plans may have just changed, I drove home in logistics mode.  I can't help it; my mind just goes there--if he has the flu, will he be able to do the job?  Could I possibly drive him there?  Could he go a day early to get a full night's rest at a hotel?  Would I be involved in this trip?  Yeah, all that and more for the 30-minute drive.  I wish I could turn it off, but alas...

Sure enough, he was feverish, sweaty, then chilled and shivering.  Flat on his back--fortunately all night--then through the first part of Thursday morning.  When he got the okay to get a hotel for Thursday night, I threw some clothes in my bag and was ready to go (I'm getting to be an expert at this!!).

We got a hotel about eight miles from the arena where Fernando would be working, and he got a good night of sleep.  He was still chilled, then feverish, in the morning, but we made it to the arena and he used all his strength to get the truck set up and ready for transmitting the games that would be played throughout the afternoon and evening.

We grabbed lunch at a nearby Buffalo Wild Wings (my first time there--should I have a bucket list for these things??  I hardly eat out anywhere...) and got back to the truck for the first transmission of several on Friday; WCHA (Western Collegiate Hockey Association) tournament was what he was covering this weekend.

Buses would pull up and let out players or cheerleaders or band members, and the band from Michigan Tech was the most colorful and unique.  I'm not sure if those were regulation uniforms (one tuba player was shirtless--interesting!), but they certainly were memorable!

Fernando worked, I read, or took pictures, or worked crossword puzzles, or took phone calls...

My view of the parking lot out the front window of Arctek Purple.

We got a ride (thanks, Gressler!!) to the Holiday Inn in downtown Grand Rapids, and we slept in the next morning.  Fernando's fever broke, and he was ready for a Saturday of work.

In both the hotels here, the tap water was, um, brown.  Yes.  We brought in bottled water, and I had a nice mug of tea and a good read while Fernando showered and got ready.

Since we checked out of the hotel that morning, we had to lug all our stuff back to the truck--one mile away:  Fernando had his roller suitcase, a backpack with computer, and his C-PAP.  I rolled my suitcase, along with my camera bag, my computer bag, and oh, of course--my purse (it's the tiniest thing, but I felt every ounce).  Downtown Grand Rapids was so pretty!  We stopped on the bridge so I could take a cell phone picture--the most I could manage with all my stuff.

After unloading everything into the truck, we walked halfway back to the hotel to go to Panera so Fernando could get some breakfast.  We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast/lunch there, while hordes of high schoolers invaded (they were in town for a competition for some college scholarship program).

 Me at Panera.  Yes, I drank coffee.

I brought Bella with me, so we stopped along the way back to the truck so I could take some proper pictures.

The B.O.B. -- Big Old Building.

Here's a sight I don't normally see:  the front of the arena!

Van Andel Arena.

Van Andel Arena, with window reflections.

We spent a boring Saturday afternoon--boring is good as it means no issues with the transmission--and when Fernando got the Good Night from the production truck, he was out and disconnecting cables, stowing the antenna, and packing up for the trip home.  I do what I can, while staying out of his way--moving suitcases from the front to the side so they can be loaded in the back, cleaning up stuff lying around, maybe putting his computer away.

I stared at the passenger seat which Fernando turns around to face the interior of the truck so I'm not staring out of the front window with my back to him.  He turns it around each time, and he turns it back.  He "showed" me how to do it a few times, and I've tried it, but I could never get it turned around.  I guess there's a lever there somewhere, but it just never worked for me.  Dense woman.

This time, I figured I'd try again.  Fiddle, fiddle, fiddle, and guess what?  I got that thing turned around frontward!  I was tickled, and felt quite accomplished.  When Fernando had a break and I knew I wouldn't be interrupting him, I showed him.  One fist bump later, we finished packing up.

Fernando started to crash after everything was ready to go, so he asked me to drive him home.  He dozed on and off on the trip home, then focused on staying awake for the remainder of the trip.  I was so happy to have been useful, to Fernando, to Arctek, really.  Being useful is somewhat archaic, but not to me.  It's who I am.

I'm glad I got to be me last week.

Back to life,

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

'Bama Bound

Wednesday the 9th.

Fernando welcomed me on his trip to Birmingham, Alabama, and it turned out we had to leave on Wednesday in order to arrive at the venue by Thursday evening.  After a big meal at lunchtime, we got on the road, and ended up in Indianapolis by dinnertime.  We stopped at Cheeseburger in Paradise; Fernando had been wanting to stop there.  I was still full from lunch!  So, I watched him eat.  :)

 At Cheeseburger in Paradise.

Fernando took over the driving from there, getting us into Kentucky, and to a Holiday Inn in Bowling Green.

Ritzy hotel--plus a military discount, making it the cheapest hotel we've stayed in!

Thursday the 10th.

Fernando drove us through Kentucky, then Tennessee, then into Alabama--my first time ever this far south.

Downtown Nashville.

A rocket on the side of the road; near Huntsville, AL, and the NASA center there.

At the venue (Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center), Fernando got situated and got the dish up on the bird (satellite).

C-USA Conference playoffs (men's and women's).

My creative photo of the trip.

Penelope (Arctek Purple) outside the Legacy Arena at the BJCC.

Then it rained, and Fernando and I shared truck space until he was all set for transmissions the next morning--early).

Friday the 11th.

It's hard to be on-site at 6:00am...

Fernando had four transmissions all day Friday.

 Relaxing between transmissions.

At one non-rainy point, I put my macro lens on Bella (my Canon 6D) and took a wandering walk around the edge of the VIP parking lot where we were stationed.

Signs of spring!

Saturday the 12th.

This day is actually our half-anniversary!  Since Fernando didn't have to be on-site until 2pm, we had a relaxing morning.  In other words, that meant sleeping in (just a little for me--I can't sleep late), tea made with the in-room coffee maker, and the Psalms to start my day.

For lunch, we visited a Mexican restaurant, Cantina Laredo.  Apparently, there's one located downtown Chicago, but we didn't know this.  The food was excellent!

Then it was a nice walk several blocks to the site once again, for the C-USA women's final.  Then it rained.  Again.

Sunday the 13th.

Fernando asked me to drive the first leg of our trip so he could eat breakfast (I had some organic instant oatmeal in the hotel room before we left).  During my stint as driver, here was my routine:

  • Press the "wiper on" button every now and then.
  • Turn on intermittent wipers.
  • Turn on low-speed wipers.
  • Turn off wipers.
  • Turn on wipers.
  • Turn on fast wipers and reduce speed.
  • Repeat in various random steps.

Since I hadn't had the Cheeseburger in Paradise experience on the way down, we stopped again on the way home for a late supper.  Fernando got some sort of monster burger.  I helped him out eating it (meaning, I had a bite).

Fernando took over the last leg of driving, and I took one picture of Indianapolis with some blue sky before stowing my phone and relaxing for the remainder of the trip home.

Our trips may seem boring (no sightseeing, museums, strolling around, relaxing, etc.), but we get to spend time together, I get to be useful as a driver, and we have fun.  We're both loving it!

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