Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Call to Action...

     I've got some cool stuff to share this week, but first I want to please ask you to consider making a donation to the Red Cross on behalf of those affected by the landslide in Oso, WA.  It's not too far from where I live and it has just devastated that community.  There has been an outpouring of gifts of clothes and food into the area, gas cards and other physical necessities.  I even heard the story of a woman who has volunteered to wash all the laundry of the searchers at a local laundromat for as long as the search continues.  They are well covered now.  But in a few weeks, when the sensation dies down, there will still be need as roads, houses, and lives are re-built.  The best way I can think of to support them is with a non-perishable donation of money.  Additionally, I understand the local helicopter team that has been instrumental in the rescue efforts is about to close from lack of funding.  The Snohomish County Helicopter Rescue Team is down $150,000 after a lost funding stream. I plan to donate to them also.  Those of you with a soft spot for our fuzzy friends may wish to make a donation to Puget Sound Animal Welfare Rescue and Education as they help those four-legged survivors.  If you don't see something interesting here, a local radio station has compiled a complete list of all the ways to donate money and time.

Thank you for your consideration...

Crackers on the Couch

Monday, March 10, 2014

The ol' Blue and Gold.

     When I was a kid I had absolutely no interest in being a Girl Scout.  I didn't know what they did, except every now and then, they'd show up at school in their uniforms and apparently they sold cookies, though I don't think my folks ever bought any.  (I made up for this in college by buying and consuming an entire childhood's worth of Thin Mints every year on the first day of sales.  This was how I learned that eating an entire childhood's worth of mint extract makes my tummy feel funny.  And by "funny" of course, I mean "rolling around on the bed moaning in agony while still shoving Thin Mints in my face." This may or may not have helped solidify my complete lack of excitement about Girl Scouts.)  But anyway, what I really wanted to be was a Boy Scout.

     My brother was a Cub Scout for about 30 seconds when we were kids.  He went to a few meetings, made a pinewood derby car, we went to a Jamboree one year, and I think that was pretty much it for him.  But we got Boy's Life for years and years and I loved them.  There was some kind of comic about a burro and I'm pretty sure Boy's Life is where I learned how to install insulation.  You know... Like you do. 

     One of my greatest hopes for my boys is that they would want to join the scouts when they were old enough and last week we went to my son's very first meeting.  He is beside himself.  My little one is a grumbling ball of jealousy.  Fortunately, the second meeting he attended was the Blue and Gold Banquet which is for families.  My youngest was amazed by the theatrics, my eldest mostly wanted to run around like a monkey with all his new friends, while I was mostly sitting there bursting my goshdarn buttons.

     Our den's offering for the banquet was spaghetti and seeing as how it was my son's very first one and how it was only our second meeting and how I was so goshdarn proud and all, I decided to make homemade sauce.

Blue and Gold Pasta Sauce
22 Roma tomatoes
1 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 large onion (about 12 oz), chopped roughly
8 oz small sweet peppers, sliced into 1/4 inch rings (about 2 1/2 C)
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 C mixed olive tapenade (opt)
2 Tbs tomato paste
3 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 C sliced, frozen artichoke hearts (still frozen)
4 Tbs chopped fresh basil
1 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp thyme

Cut X's in the bottoms of tomatoes and broil until skins begin to brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool until you can touch them.  Remove peels and set tomatoes aside.  In a large stock pot, heat olive oil.  Cook onion until slightly brown and softening, then add peppers and mushrooms.  Cook until soft.  Make a small well in the middle of the veggies and add garlic to the dry pan, heat until scent blooms and stir in.  Stir in tomatoes and olives.  Cook until tomatoes have softened, about an hour.  Add salt, pepper, tomato paste and artichoke hearts.  Heat a little more until hearts have warmed up.  Remove from heat and stir in fresh herbs.  Makes enough to coat 1 16oz bag of pasta well.

My youngest, aka Mr. Idonlikeit, ate three helpings of this pasta at the banquet and hasn't turned his nose up at leftovers, either.  When I was making it, I ate a solid cup of it with a fork before I even got the pasta ready.  This stuff is serious, ya'll.
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