New Blog Digs
Posted Tue, 09/16/14
I've wanted to change the overall design of Appetizing Muse for many years, but could never find or create a template that struck my fancy. I've found it now (you're looking at it): red and green scheme, with a fairly simple layout. I created page header buttons using the "Nadall" font, which reminds me of the print style found on old movie posters.
I've included blog archives from 2003 onwards, so in essence the history of Appetizing Muse has spanned fourteen years. The design has changed only three times. The first template (2003-2010) was narrow with blue-purple colors and linked calendar, while the second (2010-April 2014) was green and yellow. (Click on images below to view larger samples in a new window).
The design will not likely change for another several years. While tromping down memory lane during assembly of the archives was enjoyable, reconstituting more than a decade's worth of blog posts was a long, tedious process and not one I'll willingly undertake again. When all was said and done, 1,182 pages constituted the new blog (exhausting just to hear the number). Still, re-visiting my culinary and personal past was rather bittersweet. I was all of forty-one years old when Appetizing Muse began, so do the math. My late husband Wilbert Alviso was also frequently mentioned in blog posts during 2003-2007, which brought him back to life for me in an odd way as I edited the many archives.
The re-design process was also long because of several personal issues. My mother was diagnosed with stage five-into-six Alzheimer's disease in May 2014. The months (and to some extent, years) leading up to the diagnosis were nearly unbearable. The associated mind slippage has been growing worse over time, culminating with threats of self-harm and wanderings. The situation accelerated beyond anyone's control, therefore Mum was placed in a care facility which caters to patients with Alzheimer's disease. My own health issues - along with those of my father - have also grown worse recently, seeming to come on just as Mum was going through her transition into managed care. There were many days when I just wanted to give up and hide my head under a pillow, but I pressed on. Pecking away on the Appetizing Muse archives helped keep my mind occupied.
Some things haven't changed, though. I have yet to find a reliable or cost-realistic commenting system that works with my web host, so the ability to leave real-time comments after blog posts is still not available. However, anyone wishing to send a message or question about a particular blog post (whether new or ancient) can do so by filling out the general Comments form.
*Related Blog Posts:
Tamales & Tomato Soup II
Posted Mon, 09/15/14
Many years ago I concocted a simple recipe using tamales and tomato soup. It was such a tasty treat, and one I've enjoyed many times since.
Today for lunch I put together an even simpler variation of the dish, which includes only two ingredients:
Tamales & Tomato Soup II
2 Ruiz frozen tamales (beef or chicken), cooked
1 container (15.4 oz.) Campbell's tomato soup ("Soup to Go")
Cook tamales in microwave according to package directions; allow to cool before removing corn husks. Chop tamales into bite-sized pieces. Heat soup according to container directions. Pour hot soup into a large serving bowl; gently stir in cooked tamales pieces. Heat an additional minute in the microwave if necessary. Serve. Recipe makes enough for one or two servings.
(Above): Tamales & Tomato Soup. Click on images to view larger sizes in a new window.
Ruiz tamales are the best, so I'd recommend their beef or chicken flavors for use in the above recipe.
*Related Blog Post: Tamales & Tomato Soup (10/10/03).
Fast Food Gyros
Posted Sat, 09/13/14
Gyros without spit-roasted lamb and tons of garlic? Oh, come on!
I've tried both. While Arby's piles on an adequate portion of meat (roast beef or turkey to preference), Arctic Circle's version of the same has a better taste. However, both lack the authenticity of a real Greek Gyro.
What's worse, the first time I tried to obtain the Arby's gyro, they ran out of pita bread and were offering the item on regular "buns." No thanks. What's the point without pita?
A few days later, I was able to get two gyros from Arby's for $6 (but hardly worth the price!). The "curly fries" were excessively greasy (as if saturated with cooking oil but not drained), which turned my stomach even before I began.
The best gyro I ever enjoyed came from a hole-in-the-wall cafe located in a strip mall in Missoula, Montana (1997). They offered real spit-roasted lamb gyros with plenty of garlic, onions, sliced tomatoes and Tzatziki.
Better yet, make your own.
Posted Sat, 09/06/14
Eateries I'd like to try in the very near future:
Bountiful Greek Cafe: Traditional Greek and Mexican fare, including lamb gyro plates, chicken lemon soup with salad, charbroiled chicken breast served with lemon rice and salad, Pupusas (pita with cheese and dipping sauce), lamb kabobs, tamales, chili verde burritos and much more.
MIA Empanadas Factory (Peruvian wholesale, bakery & cafe): Enjoy a freshly baked empanada today an artisan wholesome meal. Sink your teeth into the soft pastry shell to discover a flavorful filling of beef, chicken, or vegan stuffing. Over 12 different flavors. A treat to be enjoyed breakfast, lunch or dinner. Also ask for our sweet empanadas filled with apple, dulce de leche and others. Try our unique flavors of empanadas (lomo saltado, aji de gallina).
Prairie Schooner Steakhouse: Dine in a covered wagon next to an open prairie fire while enjoying our delicious hand cut steaks, fresh seafood, and signature desserts. Our indoor re-creation of the American Pioneer West provides a great atmosphere for intimate dinners, special events, and large banquets!
All three places sound utterly delightful. I can't wait to try them!
Posted Fri, 08/29/14
I celebrated my birthday with a wonderful feast:
Quick Polenta with steamed broccoli (click on image to view larger size in a new window).
My standard recipe for Quick Polenta calls for yellow cornmeal, but for today's go-round I used white cornmeal. The taste was about the same, just the coloring was different.
I'm not a cake-and-ice-cream type of person, so I'm perfectly content with salty/savory bits of food. Give me broccoli any day and I'm happy.
A lovely birthday, all in all.
Posted Sat, 08/23/14
Oh, to be in Maine come September!
According to the Boothbay Harbor Region Chamber of Commerce:
For the third year in a row, the Boothbay Harbor Region Chamber of Commerce has issued a "Claw Down" challenge to local chefs to see who can concoct the best lobster bite and take the title of 2014 Claw Down Chef of the Year. Guests will have a chance to sample all seventeen chefs' savory offerings, along with a selection of beers and wines from Cisco Brewers and Ninety Plus Cellars, and cast their votes for the People's Choice Award. The title winner will be selected through a blind judging. This year, the chefs will also have their say as they cast their votes for the Chef's Choice Award. Both the People's Choice and Judge's Choice winners will represent the region in the Lobster Chef of the Year competition in October, a signature event at Harvest on the Harbor, Maine's premier food and wine festival.
The event is scheduled to take place at Ocean Point Marina in East Boothbay, Maine on Thursday, 18th September 2014.
Tomato Basil Goodness
Posted Sun, 08/10/14
I've always been a "late-bloomer" when it comes to mega popular movies or TV shows. I didn't see any of the Star Wars movies until well after a decade following their releases, I stumbled upon Monk about three years after the show debuted, began enjoying Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman just last year, and didn't discover Sex & the City until it had been off the air for nearly a decade.
In an old episode of Sex & the City, Charlotte encourages her husband-to-be (Trey) to try a Tomato-Basil Salad. The sound and look of the meal appealed to me:
2 to 4 tomatoes (one per serving)
1 C fresh basil leaf
1 clove garlic, minced (or to taste)
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & black pepper to taste
Cut tomatoes in quarters. Roughly chop basil and place in glass container. Add minced garlic. In a bowl, mix together balsamic vinegar and olive oil; pour over basil-garlic mixture. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate at room temperature for six to eight hours. Note: Do not refrigerate before serving. Variation: Add crumbled feta cheese to salad just before serving.
I might also add a handful of shredded mozzarella cheese to complete the salad.
I have yet to try the recipe as my local grocery stores only seem to carry the organic variety of fresh basil. It is so outrageously expensive I refuse to even contemplate it.
However, I'm hoping to try the recipe before the year is out.