Wednesday, September 06, 2017

SF Recipe #7: "Lemon" Chicken Stir-Fry

After 3+ years of marriage and a number of so-so outcomes, I finally created a Sean-Friendly stir-fry that we both really like. I mean, it's not just good, but "woah" good!

“Lemon” Chicken Stir-Fry

Soy, Peanut, Tree nut, Gluten, Corn, & Citrus-Free

1. Heat 3 T canola oil in wok over medium-high heat. Add 2-4 cloves of garlic, diced. Fry until light brown, then add 1 lb. chicken pieces.

2. Brown chicken in oil/garlic.

3.· Add sliced carrots, 1/4 c. water. Bring to a boil.

4. When carrots are al dente, add 1 T sesame oil and 1/2 t. kosher salt.

5. Add sliced bell peppers, mushrooms, green onions, and more water, if necessary. Cook to just barely tender.

6. Reduce heat to low. Stir in 1 t. lemongrass and fry 3-5 minutes to warm and blend flavors.

7. Spoon over cooked rice, and enjoy!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

SF Recipe #6 - turkey potato scramble

Necessity is the mother of invention, right?  Sean and I had very little food in the house one Monday a few weeks ago, and this is what we came up with.  We loved it, so we kept a record to make it again.

turkey potato scramble
an Oman original! - serves 3-6

· 1 lb. ground turkey (pork would be good, too)
· 4 large, cooked potatoes (baked or boiled)
· 5 eggs
· 1/4 c. milk
· 3 T. canola or olive oil, divided
· 1/4 c. diced onion
· 1 green pepper
· 1/2 - 3/4 c. shredded cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, Monterey jack, etc.)
· 1 t. rosemary, divided
· 1/2 t. sage
· 1/4 t. thyme
· Salt to taste

1. Cook turkey in a large frying pan with 1 T. oil.  Season with 3/4 t. of the rosemary, as well as the sage and thyme.
2. Meanwhile, heat potatoes, onions and green pepper in 1 T. oil in another frying pan.  Season with 1/4 t. rosemary. Transfer to bowl.
3. Beat eggs and milk in a bowl and briefly preheat 1 T. oil in second pan. Cook and scramble eggs.
4. Transfer vegetables and eggs to pan with turkey.  Mix.  Sprinkle cheese on top and heat on low until it melts. Serve warm.   Salt to taste.  Garnish with ketchup or salsa, if desired.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

So, what is SF?

"SF" stands for Sean-Friendly.

My husband, Sean, has a laundry list of food allergies.   A food that is merely "Gluten-Free" and/or "Soy-Free" and/or "Nut-Free" and/or "Whatever-free" will not necessarily be something that he can eat.  I came up with the term "Sean-friendly" as a lighthearted way to deal with an often frustrating challenge: how to feed my husband without killing him.  Or making him very sick.  Thankfully, after two-and-a-half years of marriage, I haven't done either!

There have been a few close calls, though. Just after making a delicious meal with lentils, as we were literally about to eat it, I actually asked him, "Can you eat lentils?"

"I don't know..."

"Oh...  I guess I have to make something else for dinner now."  

Good thing I did, because blood tests later showed that he is allergic to them.  Bummer.

Anyway, in full, here is the list of things he must avoid eating... as far as we know... right now:
  • gluten (wheat, barley, etc.)
  • soy
  • peanuts
  • tree nuts
  • coconut
  • citrus (lemons, limes, oranges)
  • melons (honeydew,  musk, cantaloupe, etc.)
  • pineapples
  • cinnamon
  • corn
  • celery
  • lentils
  • garbanzo beans
  • anything procsesed on shared equipment with the aforementioned allergens and not specified as certified "whatever-free," such as oats, which are almost always processed with wheat
We are uncertain of mango and other more exotic fruits, but getting tested for those is low on the priority list as long as we have an infant to take care of! Thus, all the SF Recipes are free of those known and potential allergens.

And now, for a Dad Allen quote: "As one famous poet said, 'Now you know!'" :)

SF Recipe #5 - Herb & Spice Meat Loaf

Oh, Worcestershire Sauce.

How I loved it - so useful in many a recipe to add flavor and that je ne sais qouis. And it was economical, too, because I would buy one jar, stick it in the fridge, and use it for months - years, even.

Then, I married Sean.

Just when a new dish is starting to look promising, the sauce appears.  I get that now-familiar sinking feeling as I realize I need to find yet another substitute for yet another recipe.  You see, I have yet to find an all-purpose substitute. The closest I've been able to get is using various Faux Soy Sauce recipes, then adding bits of other ingredients that are also in a Worcestershire Sauce. This is time-consuming and hit-or-miss, so each time I am able to adjust a recipe, AND it tastes really good, I'm pretty excited.  Here is one of the best meat loafs I have ever eaten, with or without gluten, soy, nuts... or Worcestershire Sauce!


Herb and Spice Meat Loaf
adapted from Betty Crocker and Joy of Cooking Cookbooks
serves 4-6

1 lb. ground beef
1 and 1/2 c. onions, chopped
2 eggs
1 c. milk
1/2 c. dry bread crumbs
1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley
1 t. thyme
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. ground mustard
1/4 t. ground black pepper
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. sage
1/3 - 1/2 c. ketchup

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  In large bowl,  mix all ingredients, except ketchup, with hands.  Press into loaf pan.  Spread ketchup over top of loaf.  Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until meat thermometer reads 160 degrees.

SF Recipe #4 - Quinoa Pilaf

Since Sean is allergic to the majority of starches used in American cooking (wheat, barley, and other "glutenous" grains, as well as corn), I try to get creative in filling him up with things that have more protein than rice.  While we can use all sorts of potatoes, he isn't a huge fan of sweet potatoes and yams.  Also, at some point, one gets a little bored with just those two options - potatoes or rice, rice or potatoes...

And then there's the fact that rice has arsenic in it.  Folks who can eat gluten and/or corn will most likely ingest a small enough amount of the carcinogen that their bodies' can process it without harm.  Folks like Sean, on the other hand, who eat rice-based bread, pasta, cereal, etc. are at risk of problems.  But that is another discussion for another time.

That said, quinoa is a great alternative.  It's totally different in texture and flavor, it tastes quite good when done right, and it's totally Sean-Friendly.  Hooray!

Here is my go-to quinoa recipe, especially when using cheaper brands.  More expensive quinoa is tasty enough to eat with just a little butter, salt, and pepper.  This recipe dresses up either kind to make it super yummy.

One thing to note: I have yet to find a packaged, pre-cooked quinoa that doesn't taste gross.   Quinoa cooks up really fast, so... yeah, just don't go there.

Quinoa Pilaf
adapted from recipe on box of Ancient Harvest quinoa - one of the good ones, by the way! :)

serves 4

4 c. cooked quinoa
1 c. carrots, chopped
3/4 c. green onion, chopped
1 c. bell pepper, chopped
4-6 mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 t. oregano
1/4 t. basil
1/4 t. rosemary
1/2 t. champagne vinegar (optional)

Saute vegetables in butter or frying oil until crisp.  Stir in herbs.  Add quinoa and vinegar.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Enjoy!

Variation for extra flavor: When cooking quinoa, use broth (chicken, vegetable, or mushroom) in place of water.

SF Spice Recipe #1 - Cinnamon-Free Pumpkin Pie Spice



This one is super simple, but I'll post it because...  we are smack dab in the middle of "Pumpkin-Everything" season, so why not?  ;)  But seriously, I'll probably need it when traveling this Thanksgiving.  The less I have to figure out when on-the-go, the better!

Cinnamon-Free Pumpkin Pie Spice
adapted from Gal on a Mission and Joy the Baker

1/4 c. allspice
1 T. + 1 tsp. ginger
1 T. + 1 tsp. nutmeg
1 T. ground cloves
1/2 t. mace and/or cardamom (total of 1/2 teaspoon, not 1/2 teaspoon of each!)

Blend and store in an air-tight jar.  Enjoy in all the fall recipes you can find!  :)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

SF Recipe #3 - Roasted Broccoli Quinoa Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

To call this a "win" would be the understatement of the year.  I made this as a side to a simple ham steak that I just needed to reheat.  The meat was a nice complement, but this salad was the star of the meal!  We ate it warm both times, but I look forward to making it again (probably doubling the recipe!) and trying it room temperature or cold.  

Well, okay, we ate it warm-ish.  We do have an infant, and he always seems to know when we want to sit down to eat something...  :)

Roasted Broccoli Quinoa Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing
Adapted from recipe at Fooduzzi

Serves 3-6
· 1 cup uncooked quinoa
· 1 large (or 2 small) head of broccoli, chopped into small, uniform pieces
· ¼ cup + 1 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
· 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
· 3 Tbsp. honey
· 1 Tbsp. champagne vinegar
· 1 clove garlic, minced or grated
· 1 tsp. coarse salt
· 1 tsp. fresh ground pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
2. Cook quinoa according to package directions, then set aside.
3. Toss broccoli florets in 1 Tbsp. olive oil and place on the baking sheet. Season with 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender and golden.
4. Meanwhile, combine dijon, honey, champagne vinegar, garlic, and remaining ¼ cup olive oil in a small bowl or cup and stir. The dressing will be thick. Set aside.
5. In a large bowl, combine quinoa and broccoli. Pour dressing on top, and mix to combine. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.

SF Recipe #2 - Oven Roasted Beet Salad with Feta and Aged Balsamic

Picture coming soon!

So, nearly two years later, I am finally adding more of these.  Not that I have been idle, as anyone whose seen my Pinterest boards can attest!  I have not only been saving lots of recipes, though, but also making and adjusting them, too.  I'm finally motivated to start posting them because I would like to access to them when I travel, as we are planning to do in a few weeks.

One of my missions within the grand challenge of cooking/baking Sean-Friendly has been to expand Sean's palate, especially in the realm of vegetables.  Once we determine that there is little to no chance that he is allergic to a particular ingredient, I can start experimenting.  Most of the time, I am able to win him over on the first try.  This past week I was 2 for 3 - not too bad.  Here was the first "win."

Oven Roasted Beet Salad with Feta and Balsamic Vinegar
Adapted from recipes at Tiny Urban Kitchen and Scrambled Chefs 
serves 4-6
NOTE: Once beets have been coated in vinegar, they taste best if eaten right away. Likewise, the feta should be added right before eating.  Undressed, roasted beets can be kept in the refrigerator and then reheated right before they are needed.


· 4 whole beets, cut up into similar pieces (about 5-6 cups worth)
· 2 tablespoon of olive oil
· 1 teaspoon coarse salt
· 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
· 8 ounces feta cheese
· 4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (aged balsamic is best!)
· Sugar to taste, if needed
· 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1) Preheat oven to 425 °F.
2) Toss the beets with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for about 25 minutes.  Transfer to large bowl.  
3) If not using all the beets immediately, divide into two bowls—one for the refrigerator and one for immediate use. Also, figure out how much vinegar and feta will be needed immediately (half of recipe? one third? etc.)
4) If sugar is needed to sweeten the vinegar, mix these two ingredients in a small bowl.
5) Pour vinegar over the beets and toss to coat.
6) Add feta cheese and toss gently.
7) Top with parsley and/or make available to garnish at the table.
8) ENJOY!






Thursday, August 06, 2015

further trouble with smart cars

As I first mentioned in this post in May, I've been shocked at how little is generally known about the the problems with all the fun toys (apps, streaming music, streaming maps, etc.) in new cars like the one my husband and I just bought after we couldn't find a good, lightly-used one.  I just wonder if I can hack my own car to turn all the apps and streaming stuff off!

*Sigh*

I am starting to see a bit more on the 'net about this issue, so that's good. Listening to Morning Classics on Montana Public Radio this morning, I came across "Tesla Model S Can Be Hacked, And Fixed (Which Is The Real News)," which led me to "Hackers Remotely Kill a Jeep on the Highway—With Me in It."

I'm also glad to see that some legislators are starting to discuss this: “'Drivers shouldn’t have to choose between being connected and being protected,' [Massachusetts Senator] Markey wrote in a statement shared with WIRED."

Well, I'm not sure I agree; I don't think we can "have it all" in life, in general.  I just want to be given the option of not having to be connected, as that is the best way to stay protected.  I'm worried, though, that it will take someone getting hurt or killed for this to be taken seriously and get legislation moved through all the hurdles of government.

We shall see.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

"That's My Ride!" - a pictorial history

Car shopping has me in a nostalgic mood.  I've had some vehicles with real character!  Here's a look back my "rides" of the last 10 years.

September 2005: Joe the Bike - just $30 at an Idaho Youth Ranch thrift store! He was a work horse, but he had issues.  As the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
Super commuter3

July 2006: TT the Car, so named since she was "Teal and Tan," and the name reminded this homesick Boston girl of T.T. the Bear's Place.  This little 1992 Saturn got great gas mileage and ran pretty well for her age.
ready - cropped
In this pic from August 2007, you can also see Boise Bike #2 (BB2) that I had bought earlier that summer. At $60 from the Youth Ranch, it was an upgrade!

August 2007: TT's dramatic end.  an hour later
That was a rather difficult day, but the story ended well, especially since a few months later a friend gave me...
me and new car
...a 1996 Mercury Sable!   This pretty girl looked very grown-up and professional, and she served me well...
there she goes.jpg
...until the transmission finally went out in Ogden, Utah in May 2009.

I then lived car-less for almost 4 years.  At first, I biked most of the time on BB2, but after the elbow injury in January 2012, I walked. I bused some, too, but mostly I walked... A LOT.

Finally...  



Thus, inspired by facebook chatter, I named this new-only-to-me car "Alexei Hondeski Accordakov," or "Alyosha," for short.

A few months later, this guy, Sean, came into my life!  You may have heard that the two of us even got hitched in April of last year.  
S&S Portraits (33)
Since about that time, Sean has been saying how we should look for a better car for me, but the need became more evident this spring as multiple costs for repairs suddenly cropped up. It's just painful when, in the span of a few months, you have to put much more into a car than it is worth just to stay safe while driving!

And so, on 15 July 2015, my dear, sweet, amazing husband bought a beautiful, all-new, blue (!) Honda Accord for me to use around town and for us to use on road trips.  It is still unnamed, except for the requisite patronymic, "Alexeyevich," after my first Honda and in honor of the trip Sean and I took to Russia last month.

Now this is an upgrade!

Monday, June 22, 2015

bon anniversaire!

Happy Birthday to Me!

Well, not "me," as in "Sylvia," but "me," as in my blog "leaves..."

Just now, I was browsing through old posts, wondering which ones I've actually shown to Sean.  Then, just for kicks, I clicked on the earliest one and realized it was from April 30, 2005.  Woah.  That makes this little corner of cyberspace a 10-year-old!  I immediately felt it necessary to mark the  milestone, albeit belatedly.  In celebration, here are the most important posts, the ones that have stuck with me long after writing them, in order of Must Read-ness.

August 30, 2007: the Move to Missoula  the thrilling adventure of my actual move.  It was not how I planned it, but who could ask for a better story?!

June 17, 2009: všetko v poriadku In this follow-up to the angst-laden post I wrote near the beginning of my three-week trip (všetko), I share how God brought all the details together and made it an experience I'll never forget.

November 13, 2009: woke up to Jessica's alarm this morning...  processing heartache and uncertainty.

October 20, 2005: at the end of one of those days a sweet moment.

June 14, 2005: Oh, oh that's my cue! preparing to move to Boise for grad school.

August 17, 2007: Walking Around the Corner moving again, but with a new perspective.

October 4, 2005: obsession Barely a month and a half into the school year, and I was already exhausted.

June 27, 2006: Big Sky Expeditions 2006 my first trip to Slavic lands.

May 8, 2008: attention all word nerds the one where "somebody famous" commented on my blog!  okay, just NPR famous.  And it probably wasn't really him - just some staff underling - but still...

March 10, 2006: victim making good use of that snazzy, new, flip-phone camera.

November 1, 2006: a sappy true story further proof, if you really needed it, that I'm a complete dork!

As always, thanks for reading.