Monthly Archives: June 2011

How to Use a Slotted Spoon to Prepare Herbs

Hand-picking herbs off their stems is a tiresome task.  However, you can save time and patience by grabbing that seemingly useless slotted spoon.

Simply stick the stem through one of the holes and pull through.  The leaves will come off easily and will remain in the spoon.  This works great with thyme and oregano.

Knowledge is power!  Learn fun facts, hints and tips, and creative ways to use every day items with “The Buzz” posts on Thursday.

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Panzanella Salad

This is a delicious and refreshing summer salad.  Make it a day ahead for even more flavor!  It probably won’t last much longer after that…so be sure to keep that in mind.  If you need it to last a bit longer, keep the bread cubes separate and mix them into each serving.  That will prevent the leftover bread from becoming mushy.

PANZANELLA SALAD

6 cups cubed rustic bread (these can be toasted up to 1 week before use.  Keep in airtight container at room temperature.)

4 large ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 medium yellow peppers, seeded and cubed

1 large cucumber, cut into small pieces (use seedless if you can find it.  If not, a regular cucumber is fine.)

1/3 cup chopped parsley

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a jelly roll pan with foil and spray with non stick cooking spray.  Arrange your bread cubes on the pan in one layer and toast 10-15 minutes, tossing once, until evenly browned.

2.  Combine tomatoes, onion, oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally.

3.  Add remaining ingredients to tomato mixture and let stand at least 15 minutes to let flavors blend together.  Add bread crumbs just before serving.  Mix to combine.

Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips. 

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Interred with Their Bones Book Review

June 2004.  Kate Stanley’s production of Hamlet is having its opening night at London’s rebuilt Globe Theatre.  Prior to the opening, Kate’s friend and colleague Rosalind Howard hands her a small gold-wrapped box, telling her not to open it until “it’s time”.  Hours later, Rosalind is found murdered in the same fashion in which Hamlet’s father died.  The Globe Theatre is ablaze and one of Rosalind’s precious Shakespearean books is missing.

Kate, a well-read Shakespearean director from Harvard, soon discovers that the murderer knows his Shakespeare…and the bodies that continue to pile up becomes proof of that.  Kate travels the world over on a wild chase to find the killer, not realizing that the murderer is always hot on her trail.

If that wasn’t enough, Kate is also on a quest to solve a huge mystery surrounding Shakespeare himself.  Roz’s secret gift throws Kate into a quest to find whatever truth lay out there about this man everyone knows, but knows nothing about.  Can she track down Roz’s murderer and her treasure before Kate becomes the next one to die a tragic Shakespearean death…or will Roz’s secret forever remain interred with her bones?

Interred with Their Bones is an exciting and fast-paced nosedive into murder, mystery, and mayhem.  Fans of Shakespeare will probably enjoy Kate’s quest to find Roz’s treasure, as it stirs up many myths and legends surrounding who and what “Shakespeare” was.

A Harvard professor of Shakespeare herself, author Jennifer Lee Carrell shows her knowledge of The Bard is extraordinary…and her use of Shakespeare’s many tragic plots provide gruesome and sometimes poetic deaths to several unfortunate souls.

A knowledge and appreciation of Shakespeare is somewhat essential if you decide to read Interred with Their Bones.  He’s as much a character in the story as Kate is, and while many of the “discoveries” Kate makes are fictional, they do provide logical arguments that could have a very high chance of being true.

NEXT WEEK:  The L.A. Times says he “exudes a Jagger-esque rock star charisma…with an undercurrent of David Schwimmer’s ‘Why me?’ neurotic twitchiness…”.  Sound strange?  You don’t even know the half of it…

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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Tabouleh and Watermelon Salad

Okay, now just bear with me here.  I know this may not sound appetizing, but this is maybe one of the most delicious and refreshing salads I’ve ever had.  It’s simple, healthy, and perfect for a hot summer afternoon.

Tabouleh with Watermelon

TABOULEH WITH WATERMELON AND FETA

1 box tabouleh mix

Olive oil (according to package directions)

1/4-1 cup parsley, depending on taste

1/2 cucumber, chopped into bite sized pieces

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

1-1/2 cups watermelon, cut into 1″ squares

Juice of 1 lemon

1.  Prepare tabouleh according to package directions (usually soaking the mix in boiling water for at least 30 minutes).

2.  When tabouleh has set, remove from fridge and fluff with a fork.  Add olive oil, parsley, cucumber, feta, and watermelon.  Stir until incorporated.  Sprinkle lemon juice over the salad and stir once more.

Let the flavors marinate overnight, or at least for 1-2 hours.  Serve as a main dish, side dish, or use it in a lettuce wrap.  The possibilities are endless!

Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips. 

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When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? Book Review

George Carlin.  The ultimate Man’s Man.  His comedy skits were groundbreaking, as he so brutally uttered the hidden thoughts of the American masses.  His comedy was merely funny because it was true…people could relate to it.  In one of his early books, When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?, Carlin doesn’t disappoint…as he expresses his thoughts on everything from annoying euphemisms to brilliant ideas for new reality TV shows…from his commentary on various Bible stories to how to deal with the spike in the American population.

When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? is a hilarious and honest look into contemporary social and political issues.  While some of the skits are a tad bit dated now (who else is sick of George W. jokes?), they still will not fail in making you laugh…or at least chuckle at how spot on Carlin is with his material.

Reading this book straight through can be rather monotonous, since many of the short segments deal with the same topics…just with different insults.  Instead, dip into this book here and there.  Browse through it or read a little bit at a time.  Like most comedians will often tell you, sometimes less is more.

When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? is a great gift idea for dads, brothers, and grandpas alike.  Pair it with Carlin’s much better book, Last Words…or pick up the recording of his It’s Bad for Ya performance (personally, I’d spring for the CD).  It was one of the last times, if not the last, Carlin graced the comedic stage…and ironically his routines seem to act as a perfect eulogy to the man who reawakened standup comedy.

NEXT WEEK:  Shakespeare scholars are being killed off one by one…and each murder scene seems to be taken right out of one of Shakespeare’s plays.  Can one Shakespearian hunt down the literary murderer before she finds herself as dead as Juliet?

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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8 Clever Uses for Fishing Bobbers

Fishing bobbers are a staple for nature-loving dads.  Whether he’s a fisherman or not, these little plastic balls can be put to use in tons of creative ways!

Check out my bobbers! Wow. Sorry. 🙂

1.  Bobbers obviously float…so use one as a keychain if you’re heading out into the water.  If, for some reason, your keys fall overboard or your kayak tips over, the bobber will keep your keys above water.

2.  Use a bobber as a light pull for a light string that’s hard to reach.

3.  Carefully pry the bobbers open and fill each one with an activity idea, thought, quote, or piece of candy.  Glue them back together and hang several from a tree.  Present it to dad on Father’s Day for a celebration that could easily last the whole month (if you instruct him to open one bobber a day).

4.  Tie a string onto several bobbers if you’re going on a long hike.  Fishing bobbers are light and easily fit into a backpack.  Tie bobbers onto various tree limbs to mark your route in case you get lost on the way back.

5.  Carefully drill a hole through the top of the bobber to make your own salt and pepper shakers!  This would be a great wedding favor for a nature/outdoor themed wedding.

6.  Bobbers come with a hook already in them (to attach it to a fishing line)…so you could paint them and make your own awesome Christmas ornaments!  OR paint them and hang them around your boathouse/outdoor room for a unique and creative art piece.

7.  Fill bobbers with beans or rice and use them as kitten toys.

8.  Tie your tea bags to the bobber for a fun tea holder.  This is great if you’re making iced tea and are using several tea bags.  You can also use this tactic in the bathtub if you make your own bath sachets.

Knowledge is power!  Learn fun facts, hints and tips, and creative ways to use every day items with “The Buzz” posts on Thursday.

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6 Easy Gifts for Father’s Day

In my family we don’t do gifts for Father’s and Mother’s Day…instead, we spend the day as a family eating.  That’s the truth of it.  There’s nothing we need to buy one another that we can’t get ourselves…and now that my siblings and I are all grown up and starting lives of our own, the family time we have always treasured has been limited…so giving Dad and Mom our time on their respective calendar days has turned out to be the best gift ever.

If you ask me, showing Dad some love doesn’t have to drain your wallet…and chances are, what he really wants is a little downtime with his loved ones…even if he’s too manly to say it 🙂

My dad and I reading the paper…our Sunday tradition!

ACTIVE DADS:

If your dad is into the great outdoors, plan a camping get-a-way adventure in your own backyard.  Set up a tent, make a bonfire, and have a weenie roast.  If you’re rained out, move the outdoors inside and camp out in the basement!  My brother and I used to do this all the time.  Plus, no bugs!  If you guys wanna get up and get moving, research various National Parks around you or scout out some forest preserves.  Pack a picnic and spend the afternoon hiking.  If you’re a fishing family, do some research and find some lakes around you that will allow you to take fish home.  See what fish live in those lakes and buy lures to attract those fish.  Tape them to a map of the area so dad knows what bait to use at every lake.

VACATION DADS:

Does your dad love to get away?  Have your family pool all the money you would have spent on gifts together and buy dad a gas card.  Pile everyone up in the car and take a road trip.  There’s so much to see here in the U.S. and there’s at least one awesome attraction in every state.

CULINARY DADS: 

He’s the king of the grill.  The meat man.  The host with the most.  Instead of buying him more grilling supplies (which he probably doesn’t need), buy him a few cooking classes at a local cooking or community college.  If he’s not the school type, devote one day a week to helping him in the kitchen.  Make Friday night family night and get everyone involved in making dinner.  Feeling like experimenting?  Lay out a map of the world on the kitchen table.  Each week take turns rolling a die on the map.  Plan your meals on which country the die lands.  Expand the taste buds!!

DADS WITH A GOAL: 

Is your dad trying to shed a few pounds?  As we all know, the older we get, the harder it is to loose weight…so help encourage your papa by promising him a new outfit when he reaches his goal weight.  Offer to run with him three times a week and make healthy meals together to keep you both on track.

STAY AT HOME DADS:

Let’s face it…the job market sucks.  Hundreds of people are out of work, including many dads who have a family to support.  If your dad is out of work, chances are he needs some words of encouragement more than anything.  Gather the family together and make a video where you each tell dad how much you love him and thank him for all he’s done.

GRANDPAS:

Dick Van Dyke, one of the most well-loved dads of all time, has just come out with his autobiography, My Lucky Life.  Not only grandpas, but I’m sure several dads would love this.  If you get the book on tape/CD, you can hear Dick Van Dyke read his own memoir.  Sign me up!

Celebrate creativity every Wednesday with a “Creativi-bee” post, where I share easy craft tutorials, project ideas, and craft collections.

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