Sunday, December 29, 2013

Broad Beans-for a short time only

This will only be of interest to local readers. The Stockyards Hy-Vee on L Street in South Omaha has fresh broad beans (favas) and fresh garbanzo beans (chick peas) this week. I suggest to hurry over, and get some. The seasons are short (these are coming from Mexico) and while you are there, check out the gigantic stalks of sugar cane, and guavas on sale.
Broad beans in December are a real treat, and worth all the podding, blanching, and peeling involved. I made a pasta with veggie sausage, and broad beans that was demolished at dinner . They're such a pretty addition to an otherwise dull looking plate of noodles.

Better step on it though-I might beat you there, and buy up what's left!

Tomato Phyllo Pie

Earlier this week, I made this pie to have a quick meal with leftovers that would work cold. So much of what I cook, I don't bother posting as it seems too "ordinary" however, with New Year's Eve coming up], I thought this could be pressed into service as an appetiser. It also works as a main course with a nice salad. I don't remember where I first came across this recipe, but it isn't original. I've done my own thing with it over the years, but I see no reason you can't do the same, and add greens, or use vegan cheeses, or whatever else you like. Phyllo is so versatile, and quick once you get the hang of working with it. Make sure you have it completely thawed, and at room temperature before you start working, or the sheets will become a fiddly mess. If you're slow with this sort of thing, keep the sheets beneath a damp towel as you work to keep them from drying out-personally, I never bother, but I'm comfortable working with phyllo.

You Will Need:

20 sheets phyllo (about 1/2 package)
3-4 ripe tomatoes, sliced thin and drained
4-5 shallots, sliced thin
1 teaspoon dried thyme (or a stem's worth of fresh leaves if you have them)
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
Olive oil for cooking and brushing phyllo sheets
1 cup cheese (I used a combination of romano and provolone)grated
Optional handful of sliced olives

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking sheet. Cook the shallots in about a tablespoon of olive oil with the herbs over medium heat until they are soft, but not browned. Remove from heat and set aside. Salt carefully as the cheese you use may be salty.

 Layer 10 sheets of phyllo in the pan brushing each lightly with olive oil as you go. Spread half the cheese over the phyllo, then arrange the tomatoes in a layer. If using olives, arrange them as well. Spread the cooked shallots over the tomatoes, then top with remaining cheese. Layer another ten sheets as before, and when completed, tuck the sides under inside the pan. If you have extra phyllo sheets, crumple them up, and place them atop the pie. Brush everything (including the crumpled phyllo) with more oil, and pierce the pie several times with a sharp knife. Bake about 40 minutes, or until deeply golden. Let it stand at least five minutes (ten is better) before cutting.

Flashback to the 70's

As promised, I found a photo of myself wearing my favourite pink top.
It is strange to see myself before my eyebrows were tweezed to nothing, and with a tan. Lupus took care of my ability to sunbathe, and I seldom wear a centre part, but it is odd to see how my eyes have lightened over the years. They were really dark brown back then-now they look almost green.

I remember doing that haircut myself (you never would have guessed, huh?) chopping off a good 6 inches in a ponytail. I don't know how to explain the expression other than the photographer likely told me to smile, and being a good, teenage contrarian-I declined. Not the best yearbook photo in hindsight, but would you look at that great pink blouse?

Not pictured: A wide, green plastic belt and Sassoon jeans.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Natural Habitat of the Greater Yellowlegs

...the library, of course!
I call these my, "big Bird" tights, but I do love them.
 Quite a climb up to the library, particularly in heels-but so very worth it! We have the best library branch in our neighbourhood, and we spend a fair amount of time here.
An elderly man noticed us snapping photos. I told him this was a great photo spot, and he said he wondered why I was so dressed up. I guess this is dressed up for Omaha.
Later, I headed over to Midtown to look at the holiday windows before they were gone. I groped an elf because you don't go look at Christmas windows and not grope an elf. I mean, there's traditions to be upheld. Or downheld...or groped. Anyway, the elf wasn't well endowed or anything noteworthy, so I left soon after.
Outfit Particulars:

1960's rayon dress-Thrift World .98 cents
1970's polyester jacket (part of a pantsuit set)-Thrift World .98 cents
Belt-Thrifted, Goodwill
 1960's Wooden necklace-Thrifted
Yellow tights-Target
Bangles-thrifted various locations. The thin green bakelite Danny spotted at Goodwill for $1.99 (the kid has a good eye)
Earrings-K Mart (I think)
1970's Bags by TJ, Florence Alabama-Generations thrift store, Crossroads Mall, Omaha (I HAD to buy it, it has my monogram!)
 1960's Floral Coat (part of an ensemble) by Modeste East (thrifted YEARS) ago in Illinois. My sister thought I'd lost my mind when I bought it at some junk shop she'd taken me to in her town. I think I paid a fiver, but I can't say for certain. I know it wasn't much.
 Well, almost (my middle initial is "s" not "h" but good enough.

 Granny beads! I adore wooden beads.
 Danny spotted the green bracelet. The pink ones are plastic, the others are bakelite.
The bracelets on my right arm are both cheap plastic. Fine with me.

This outfit really attracted compliments, which is strange as it was kinda thrown together on a whim. We had a glorious 60 degree day to enjoy, but unfortunately, we are dropping to 7 degrees tonight with some crazy windchill  of -20 degrees F. You have to enjoy the decent days when you get them, as winter in this part of the country tends to be long, and on the brutal side. I didn't want to wait until May to dress like an Easter egg.

I bought another fake fur coat today, though the collar is real mink. Since the last one washed so well in a tub full of Woolite, I figured it was worth a shot with another. Good timing too, if the forecasts are correct.

Thursday, December 26, 2013


I don't wear much pink as I have a complexion that tends toward the red without benefit of cosmetics. Still, when I saw this dress at Thrift America for just under a buck, I decided to make an exception. I had a top very much like this around 1977, and I wore it to pieces. I still have numerous photos of myself wearing it, as I wore it all the time. I figured if the dress wasn't good, I could cut it down and re-make my favourite top.
Of course, the last time I wore bright pink, I was also wearing a wide, green plastic belt, and tight Sassoon jeans. God, I looked so fucking awesome in the 70's. But today, I went for a grey cardigan, and grey cable tights. I miss my green plastic belt. Have I mentioned how great I looked in the 70's?

 Outfit Particulars:

70's Leslie Fay Dress-Thrift America
Bangles-assorted thrift stores
Earrings-K Mart
Cable Tights-Sears
Pink Lipstain-Revlon
Pink Corsage-Tiff and Tam (can also be worn as a ponytail, or a clip)
Belt-Von Maur (about a decade ago)

I'm going to look through some old photos to see if I can locate myself looking fantastic in the 70's, knowing that sometimes memory and reality don't go together as well as we'd hope.

That Was Fun

There were plays to attend, wearing our best...

and all manner of cakes put to the test...

...The pudding was steamed, and put away, to be consumed on Boxing Day ('caus we just couldn't face it after all this cake)
 There were crackers with hats, and the best jokes you've heard...
...and Father Christmas brought Danny a retro drinking bird.

Mr. ETB bought me a set of measuring spoons, a hand-held Tetris game (don't ask) and the craziest 1980's clock he picked up at Goodwill (It is a pear. Yes, the fruit. No, I have no idea why). I bought him a wallet made of Tyvek with a picture of a severed hand that reads, "Stay Optimistic!" He also got a box of After Eight mints because what the hell, Christmas comes but once a year. Danny got his top hats (one silk, one felt) and a video camera. I may regret that, but time will tell.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Very Joyous Noel

"No Owl? This is how she thanks us for eating all those mice when we lived on the farm? Well, talk about being taken for granted! I don't know what a "Buche" is, or why it specifies "No Owl",  but I'm having some. Besides, I'm not really an owl, I just look like one, I'm really an eagle..."
Hope your Christmas is a real hoot.
Happy Christmas from all (owl) of us at Eat the Blog.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

1950's Silver Frock

I was going to straddle the horse in a most unladylike manner, but Danny didn't think I should do that in full view of the Barnes and Noble patrons.

Smile for the camera kid...we're making cherished holiday memories you can tell your therapist about when you're in middle age.

Outfit Particulars:

Danny: Vintage sweater from Carson Pirie Scott

Me: 1950's silver taffeta frock-Ruby Begonia's in Lincoln, Nebraska
Petticoat-thrift store in Wahoo, Nebraska
Assorted bangles-thrifted
Velvet shrug-Filene's (RIP) about 15 years ago
Rhinestone earrings-Filene's
50's-60's handbag, thrifted


The case hanging from my purse is small, but holds two Eppi-pens, and has room for a sheet of medical information. Most of my handbags can't accommodate two injectors (and a bottle of liquid Benadryl, and an inhaler) so this is a handy item for vintage purse loving people that need to carry emergency medication.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Because That Would Be Bad Manners

The hotel we stayed at does a free breakfast that is intended to be lavish, at least by Nebraska standards. I'm old enough to be mildly surprised by people straggling down to dine in pajama pants or sweats with sayings across the bum, but not so old as to be shocked. Still, I have to admit a bit of horror when I watched the children at the next table sticking the salt and pepper shakers in their mouths, and the parents leaving them on the table for the next poor unsuspecting family. We weren't dining, thankfully-just getting our morning coffee and tea, but had we been, I might well have lost my appetite.

The dining area is surrounded by the hallways of the upper floors, and you can look down at each floor to the main level. We sat there in shocked silence as a woman screamed (loudly) at her children five floors up to, "Put on shoes before you come down to breakfast! You can wear flip-flops, but you can't eat barefoot, it isn't polite!"

I had to kick Danny pretty hard beneath the table to keep him from laughing aloud (She was only an arm's length from us). I guess the kids weren't getting her point, so she moved off to the edge of the room to shout at them directly overhead.

It reminded me of my favourite East Boston moment. Walking home from the train, I passed a church where outside a mother was screaming obscenities at her child for, "Swearing in front of the goddamned church."

The Mrs. Claus Look, and a Hand Loomed Cape

 I told Danny it would be fun to walk around the mall dressed like this with his new walkie-talkies pretending to report children to Father Christmas.
"Come in, come in Elf 88, I have a candidate for the naughty list in aisle five. Not listening to his mother. Very naughty."
We didn't do it...yet.
I've had this cape for years. It is hand woven, beautiful, warm, and impossible to wear. The attached scarf can be worn dramatically over the head, but at not-quite-five foot two, it isn't a good look for me. I wear it at Christmastime, as the red and green wool looks seasonal, but it stays packed away the rest of the year. It is also impossible to drive a car wearing a cape. Anyway, this was the yearly wearing-sorry about the mirror photo. I do have a tripod now (hooray) but I've yet to take it out of the box, and try using it The timer on the camera is a whole other learning curve.

Outfit Particulars:

1960's white hat-Thrift World (I think it was a few dollars)
White jacket-thrifted
Hand woven cape-Ireland, 80's
Green cashmere sweater-Lord and Taylor, 80's

Scenes From Danny's Birthday

 There were walkie talkies...
...and a visit to the Union Pacific Train Museum.
 Whistle stopping...
 ...and driving the simulator.
 An evening at a posh hotel (with swimming and movies)...
 ...and books about eggs.
And a visit to Santa for what will likely be the last time, but he humoured me anyway. He wants a Siamese cat, and a top hat for Christmas. If he gets the cat, it will be of the plush toy variety. I'm working on the top hat. I'll hit the costume shop tomorrow.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Danny is Nine

I'm so glad I get to be your mama!

Early morning presents (still half asleep in the photos)
We bought Danny a copy of the long out of print, Observer's Guide to Eggs from Kelly Marie at Harem of Peacocks She was kind enough to send a card with a mushroom guide (another passion of Danny's) and though the picture here is blurry, you can see his smile once he realises where it came from ("The beautiful woman that lives in the woods"). We're headed to Britain in March, though I suspect that would be too early for any nests and eggs to identify (for most birds anyway) but the mushroom card will be helpful. "I really needed this", he informed us.
If you spent your childhood reading comic books, you'll be familiar with the penguin, Chilly Willy. He rarely gets his own comic, but is regularly featured in Woody Woodpecker comics. He lives in an igloo at the North Pole. I took some liberties with the story-line to keep it up-to-date with current events.
I don't know if they teach Canadians how to draw the maple leaf at school or something, but I have to tell you-it is hard!

 Once again, the food colouring pens saved the day with decorated cookies. I never could have piped Chilly's face on with that detail.

 His hands were shaking as he opened the book, and read the inscription. I wouldn't call Danny overly sentimental, but getting a book you really wanted, inscribed by someone you really admire makes for a perfect birthday present.

We also gave him a set of walkie talkies, which we may come to regret. Time will tell.

Happy Birthday Danny, we wouldn't want to be parents to anyone else (don't worry, he's an only child).


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cake/Cookie Decorating for the Nut Allergic

In the past year, two of the products I formerly relied on are no longer nut free. Most of the time there is a suitable replacement, but meringue powder, and sanding sugar seem to be limited in the number of companies producing them. I understand it is more lucrative to make a facility gluten free rather than nut, and it isn't like those with gluten allergies have it in any way easy.

I'd take my chances with raw egg whites before meringue powder made in a facility with nuts, even if the website says the machinery is cleaned after each run. I suppose it comes down to what you are comfortable with, and how severe the allergies are. After what I saw with Danny, and the frantic trip to the hospital, I'm not willing to risk it.

I'd had a tin of Just Whites sitting on a shelf for a year or so. It didn't say anything about using it to replace meringue powder in icing cookies, but I tried it, and it was perfect! Better than the craft-store stuff by miles. The icing still comes up matte compared to icing made with egg whites, but the food colours took beautifully, nothing bled (which is always a risk with black food colouring) and it dried hard without cracking or flaking. I'm not being compensated in any way by the company (I kind of wish I were because at almost eight bucks a tin, the stuff isn't cheap).

Unfortunately, I'm on my own with sanding sugar which isn't all that difficult to tint yourself, but it is a messy pain in the behind. I'm used to doing everything myself right down to our bread and jam. Danny is taking on more and more of the cooking which is good as he'll need to feed himself eventually, but I don't see him making his own sanding sugar or fondant.

Even an overnight hotel stay involves packing up a hamper of food as we can't go out to eat, or order takeaway. That sort of thing we've adjusted to over the years, but come the holidays, or birthdays having the things that make baked goods special are growing more and more difficult to source.

If anyone knows of a nut-free source of coloured sugar, I'll be your best friend if you tell me.

Big Christmas Pants!


When I bought these trousers twenty years ago, they were a whim that I figured would get a few wears before being discarded. Well, was I ever wrong! Each year they get dragged out, and thanks to the elastic waistband, I've been able to wear them as maternity clothing as well (and believe me, there isn't much out there for a pregnant lady to wear come Christmas time). Red crushed velvet palazzo pants won't get much wear outside of December, but it is nice to know I have something to wear should the need arise to look halfway festive.
I swear, I DO clean the bathroom mirror.

Of course, I think we all know my idea of "festive" isn't about to be limited by a pair of crushed velvet trousers. No sir, if there's an opportunity to wear too much-and then add a bit more, I'm all over it.
If only I had more wrist to accommodate the baubles! Gee whiz, I really need to take a lint brush to the waistcoat! I didn't notice that until I posted the photo. Getting old, and going blind isn't fun.
Outfit Particulars:

Esprit velvet waistcoat-80's
Red Crushed velvet palazzo pants-Bloomingdale's early 90's
Velour tunic-Marshall Field's late 80's
1960's beads (green) thrifted
50's brooch-thrifted
Earrings-Big Lots
Mandolin locket necklace-80's retail (can't remember)
Laura Ashley shoes-thrifted
Black and rhinestone bracelet-Mum's
White rhinestone bracelet-Claire's I think
Red glass ring-Hobby Lobby