Friday, August 30, 2013

Disaster Chef: Foodie Friday: Stuffed Zucchini, Squash, and Peppers

Today I'm putting aside Project Pinterest to share one of my very own recipes. It is super simple and delicious.

I started out trying to find a recipe on Pinterest for stuffed zucchini, but I couldn't find any that matched what I wanted to do. I already had in my head what it should be like. I found quite a few recipes, but none that looked like what I wanted. So, I kind of winged it (that's my usual cooking style anyway). They turned out really well! I was so dern proud of my little old self for making something tasty that I just had to share my own recipe. I later used this same exact formula for making peppers, and they were also excellent.

First, I put on some brown rice to simmer, since it takes 40-45 minutes. I left the timer on for this, and asked my sister to turn the stove off when it went off, and I took a little walk. Of course she didn't turn it off, even though she was home, so the rice got a little scorched. But I managed to salvage all but the bottom layer, which by this time was hopelessly fused to the bottom of the pan. The rest of it tasted fine, so I forged onwards. Word of warning, do not count on others to turn off your food, even if you set the timer, even if they are going to be eating said food!

I would recommend just letting your rice simmer while you do the rest of the dish.

First, cut your squash lengthwise into halves and scoop out the seedy soft part in the center. Save this and cut it into small pieces. (If you're using peppers, just cut out the stem and core, pull out any veins and seeds you can and tap the top of the pepper on the cutting board to knock loose any seeds. Throw that stuff out).

Then you will put the hollowed out veggies in a steamer basket and steam them for a few minutes if you don't want them to take a long time to bake. (If you have an hour or so to bake them, you can skip this step).

While your veggies to stuff are steaming, cook the stuffing. You will need:

Ground meat--beef or sausage (I used about 1/2lb for 6 small zucchini/squash)
1/2 large onion
2 large tomatoes, or a 16 oz can diced/chopped/stewed tomatoes with juice
1-2 cloves garlic
olive oil for frying
1 bell pepper chopped, any color (omit this if you're making stuffed peppers)
handful of fresh basil (or dried if you don't have fresh)
a few pinches of fresh oregano (or dried)
grated cheese (any kind)
parmesan cheese

Put olive oil in your pan and fry your onions and peppers for a few minutes. Then add the meat and zucchini innards and saute until cooked through. Add tomatoes, cooked rice, parmesan and basil and simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Now, retrieve your zucchini or peppers from the steamer. If they are still firm, that fine. I'd try to steam them for about 10 minutes after water comes to boil.

Spoon filling into zucchini, squash, or peppers, top with cheese and fresh oregano. Bake for 15-20 minutes. If you're stuffing raw veggies, 40 minutes to an hour will be needed to cook them. If all your ingredients are already hot, these cook super fast! 

I cooked these in a bread pan, so they wouldnt tip over. Worked great!
I also added some very mild homemade salsa to one batch and it turned out great. When I made stuffed peppers, I used 2 fresh tomatoes and 1 c. canned tomatoes. Feel free to experiment and mix it up!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Now On Sale! Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives: Stories from the Trailblazers of Domestic Suspense

Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives: Stories from the Trailblazers of Domestic SuspenseTroubled Daughters, Twisted Wives: Stories from the Trailblazers of Domestic Suspense by Sarah Weinman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 stars

Let me just say, I love this book. I can’t say it’s my usual genre. I’ve read exactly one female-oriented murder mystery since junior high, and I didn’t like it. But, being a supporter of women writers everywhere, I felt obliged to read this one. I could not have been more delightfully rewarded.
The book grabbed me from the first story, which was so deliciously twisted I could not stop reading. The collection’s editor, Sarah Weinman, could not have chosen a more gripping start to the anthology. “The Heroine” by Patricia Highsmith starts us off with a bang. In it, psychologically disturbed Lucille gets a job as a nanny in an idyllic home and sets about to prove her devotion to the children no matter what it takes. The short story is concise and compulsively readable. I couldn’t put it down, and luckily for me, and other busy readers, it’s short enough at 22 pages to breeze through in one short sitting, so I didn’t have to. The ending isn’t unpredictable, but so exactly right that you’re not sure the author will go there. And then she does.
Most of the stories continue in this vein. They are quick reads, they are suspenseful, they are daring, and above all they are shockingly, breathtakingly, savagely honest. (Excuse the adjective overload, I tend to pile a lot of them on when I’m deep in the squee of book love). Like most books, this one is not without flaw. Some of the stories have little holes, but I found myself not even caring. The stories were too damn good. And trust me, I never say that. I find all the little holes and loose threads and I pull at them and obsess about them until they unravel the credibility of the story. But this time, I really didn’t care. It was too good to care about any nit-picky flaws. And there weren’t many.
I’ll admit, I’m not usually a short story fan. That is, I didn’t know I was until I read this book. I haven’t read short stories since college, and I usually like to lose myself in the world of a novel, the tension and plot development and depth of character that can only come with a full-length novel, or at least a novella. But I may have to rethink that. This collection was delightfully twisted fun from start to finish. Each story had something new to think about, something to offer, some new twist that had me grinning from ear to ear while I read, hardly stopping to breathe. Most of the women who wrote these shorts also wrote novels, which I am going to have to check out very soon. They are some talented, incredibly clever writers. It’s a shame, nearly a sin, that these authors have been swept so far under the rug and ignored so thoroughly that I’ve never heard of thirteen of the fourteen featured in this book.
I was going to do a giveaway, but I’m going to be greedy and hang on to this one. I can’t bear to let it go so soon. I am going to do a more thorough read when I’m not under pressure to finish by deadline. But go get yourself a copy. This book is a hit, from the cover to every single page within. Recommended for everyone! (Over 12).

Disclaimer: I received this book for review from the publisher.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Released Today! Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives (Interview today, review tomorrow!)

Hello, readers!

I'm so, so excited about this book, and about the opportunity to share with you the new release of a collection of stories by some amazing female domestic suspense authors who were, unfortunately, forgotten along the way. Sarah Weinman has compiled a thrilling selection of short stories to remind us of their importance as well as offer some good, exciting reading.

Here's the blurb: 

TROUBLED DAUGHTERS, TWISTED WIVES: Stories from the Trailblazers of Domestic
Suspense (A Penguin Books Original; On-sale: August 27, 2013) is a salute to the real femmes fatales of the domestic suspense genre-and the deceitful children, deranged husbands, vengeful friends, and murderous
wives they unleashed.

 One of today's preeminent authorities on crime fiction, Weinman asks:
Where would today's bestselling authors like Gone Girl's Gillian Flynn,
Sue Grafton, or Tana French be without the pioneering women writers who
came before them and created the psychological thriller?  In this new
anthology, including hair-raising stories by Patricia Highsmith, Shirley
Jackson, Vera Caspary, and more, Weinman brings together fourteen tales
by women who-from the 1940s through the mid-1970s-took a scalpel to
contemporary society and sliced away to reveal its dark essence.

Today I have the wonderful privilege of sharing some of her thoughts about the book.

A Conversation with Sarah Weinman
Q: What inspired you to compile this anthology? Were you working on it before the big splash created by GONE GIRL?
A: TROUBLED DAUGHTERS emerged from an essay I wrote for the literary magazine Tin House. I'd been approached by an editor there to write something for their themed "The Mysterious" issue, and I'd long contemplated why it seemed that a fair number of female crime writers working around or after World War II through the mid-1970s weren't really part of the larger critical conversation. They weren't hard boiled per se, but they weren't out-and-out cozy, either. Hammett and Chandler and Cain, yes; but why not Marie Belloc Lowndes and Elisabeth Sanxay Holding and Vera Caspary? Why Ross Macdonald but not his wife, Margaret Millar, who published books before he did and garnered critical and commercial acclaim first? I knew after writing the essay that I wasn't done with the subject, and when I had lunch with an editor at Penguin on an unrelated matter and started going on, rather enthusiastically, about this widespread neglect, he said, "sounds like there's an anthology in this. Why don't you send me a proposal?" It took a while to organize, but eventually I did, and Penguin bought the anthology. Publishing being what it is, it's taken a little less than two years from acquisition to release date.
To answer your other question, I had just started putting the anthology together when it became clear that GONE GIRL was going to be a massive hit, and that I had a very easy one-sentence pitch for TROUBLED DAUGHTERS: “If you loved GONE GIRL, here's an entire generation of writers who helped make that book possible, and who deserve to be rescued from the shadows.” Flynn clearly tapped into contemporary anxieties about marriage, identity, high expectations, and whether we can really be true to ourselves and the ones we profess to love. So it's fascinating to explore an earlier time when many of the very same anxieties women had manifested itself, even as the very concept of independent womanhood was perceived to be a great threat.
Q: What is “domestic suspense”? What relationship does it have to other kinds of crime fiction?
A: Domestic suspense is a catch-all term for work largely published by women and describing the plight of women -- wives, daughters, the elderly, spinsters, the underserved, the overlooked, and many other phrases used then but thankfully, not so much now -- as World War II was coming to a close and the feminist movement dawned. Without domestic suspense you couldn't have contemporary psychological suspense. Conversely, the work of people like Gillian Flynn, Laura Lippman, Megan Abbott, Sophie Hannah, Tana French, and many more would not be possible without the likes of Hughes, Jackson, Millar, Highsmith, and -- though not included in TROUBLED DAUGHTERS for reasons outside the scope of this interview -- Ruth Rendell, Mary Higgins Clark, Mignon Eberhart, and more.
Q: Which one of the authors in your collection would you like to see get more credit?
A: Bear in mind my answer will change daily, but right now, I'll say Joyce Harrington. She won an Edgar Award for her very first short story – “The Purple Shroud”, included in TROUBLED DAUGHTERS – but she spent most of the 70s and 80s writing stories of equal if not greater excellence. Harrington also published three novels: No One Knows My Name (1981), set in a summer stock theater troupe; Family Reunion (1982), a very creepy Southern Gothic with quite the toxic family; and Dreemz of the Night (1987), a terrific mystery set in the then-contemporary New York City graffiti world. I love that book of hers the best because of the window it unexpectedly opened on a nearly unrecognizable version of the five boroughs.
Q: What was the first domestic suspense you ever read?
Mary Higgins Clark’s Where Are The Children?, back in eleventh grade. That book scared the hell out of me, and only later did I realize what a pivotal book that was.
Q: What is the difference between “classic” domestic suspense and the writing of the new generation (Megan Abbott, Laura Lippman, Gillian Flynn, Tana French, etc.)?
A: Largely the sensibility afforded by contemporary times. But there are many more similarities. For example, Lippman’s most recent novel, And When She Was Good, was about a suburban madam, and the way in which the suspense unfolded and she depicted Heloise’s nose for business and growing internal tensions could have been written by Margaret Millar sixty years ago (albeit with more dated references to technology.) When I first read Megan Abbott I thought immediately of Dorothy Hughes’ In A Lonely Place. The DNA of so many of these earlier writers inserted themselves into those writing today, whether they realize it consciously.
Q: Do you think women write better domestic suspense? If so, why or why not?
A: I'm a big fan of Harlan Coben and Linwood Barclay’s work, both of whom certainly work in the domestic suspense field. Ira Levin’s books work so well because he knew exactly what domestic anxiety buttons to push – Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives absolutely count as domestic suspense (and, to a certain extent, A Kiss Before Dying.) That said, women are still struggling with the work/life balance, if I may drop in some cliches like “having it all” or “leaning in.” So there are more of them exploring these themes in a fictional universe, and that means more of them are doing so with great success and acclaim. I'd like to see more men write domestic thrillers and more women write traditionally “male” subgenres so that we can blur the lines once and for all. But forty, fifty, sixty years ago, there weren't as many options.
Q: You mention in your intro to TROUBLED DAUGHTERS, TWISTED WIVES that the World Wars, particularly WWII, shaped the lives of domestic suspense writers, and consequently, what they wrote. Is there a similar “seismic event” that might have shaped the new domestic suspense, in your opinion?
A: I think these forces were at work already, but I hope that, twenty years or later from now, someone looks back at the current generation of women writers and edits a fabulous anthology explaining just how much the 2008 Great Recession changed everything. Which is to say, I think it did, and we still don't know by how much.
Q: If this kind of fiction grew out of post-war culture, particularly the idealization of women’s role in the domestic sphere and the anxieties and yearnings hidden behind that glossy picture of the happy home, is there anything analogous being written today?

A: Would that these anxieties could disappear entirely! But it’s pretty clear that any day’s headlines shows how far we still have to go. (Case in point: Sheryl Sandberg’s
Lean In.) I do think it’s why Gone Girl was such a massive hit, and why publishers are now on the hunt for that “next Gone Girl” (best current candidate: ASA Harrison's debut The Silent Wife, just published as I write this, and released more than two months after her premature death from cancer.) Now we have domestic suspense mixed with the anxieties associated with technology, and there's a great deal of terrain to explore there.

I also don’t want to exclude men unduly here; Harlan Coben and Linwood Barclay also write very gripping domestic suspense tales.

Q: At your companion website,, the tagline is “celebrating an overlooked generation of female suspense writers.” Why have they been overlooked? What influence do you think these women writers had, both on the genre and on culture as a whole?

A: The author Tom Bissell wrote an excellent essay for the Boston Review back in 2000 about his time as an assistant editor at Norton, discovering, and then republishing, the work of Paula Fox, and the tremendous responsibility (and related fear) of being responsible for a writer's renaissance. Fate has a tendency to be cruel and quixotic about who merits posthumous recognition and who does not. I feel much the same way about the 14 writers included in TROUBLED DAUGHTERS. So many of them won or were nominated for awards (like the Edgar), sold many thousands of copies, and were well-reviewed. But it's hard not to think that because their subjects were primarily "feminine" and "domestic" they weren't taken as seriously as the men, even though in many cases, the women wrote with less sentimentality and more subtlety.
Some of the writers included in TROUBLED DAUGHTERS, like Patricia Highsmith and Shirley Jackson, may not need my editorial assistance. But looking at Highsmith’s first-published short story "The Heroine" or Jackson's "Louisa, Please Come Home" in the broader context of what was going on over this three-decade period is what's key, as is seeing the importance of domestic concerns to female noir giants like Vera Caspary, Dorothy B. Hughes, and Margaret Millar.
What I really hope is that the anthology allows readers to sample and be introduced to writers who have fallen by the proverbial wayside. Raymond Chandler held up Elisabeth Sanxay Holding up as his equal. Helen Nielsen is something of an enigma to me, but “Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree” demonstrates the anxiety of being the other woman-turned-new wife and how it never recedes.  Nedra Tyre was both an avid mystery fan  and passionate about social justice and the poor, stemming from a previous life as a social worker; it’s why “A Nice Place to Stay” packs the punch it does. Barbara Callahan never published a novel during her lifetime, but "Lavender Lady", published early in her career, has the sense of depth and feeling of an experienced practitioner of prose and of emotional stakes.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Disaster Chef: Parmesan Tomatoes (side dish) Project Pinterest #5

Here is another recipe I got off Pinterest. We've had a ton of tomatoes from the garden and didn't manage to get them all canned. So, I was looking for something to do with them. This recipe from Eating Well looked tasty, and it was, if a little plain.

Here's the recipe:


  • 4 tomatoes, halved horizontally
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 450° F.
  2. Place tomatoes cut-side up on a baking sheet. Top with Parmesan, oregano, salt and pepper. Drizzle with oil and bake until the tomatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
I followed this recipe almost exactly, aside from the fact that I don't measure anything except when baking. I probably used about twice the amount of oregano and olive oil.

One thing I will say for this recipe is that it was sinfully easy. Even I pulled them off without a hitch. But I cooked mine for 15 minutes, and they didn't look anywhere near as cooked as in the picture. I cooked them another 10 and they still weren't as cooked as the picture shows. So allow extra cooking time. Honestly, these weren't my favorites. They would go well with something like steak and potatoes. But eating them alone, or on my veggie plate, they were definitely lacking. I'd recommend as a side, not a snack.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Writer Wednesday: Review: The Storyteller by Jodi Piccoult

The StorytellerThe Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Like all Jodi Picoult's books, this one had a whole mess of issues to mull over and discuss in book clubs. Her books always hit right on hot-button issues, and are great for getting discussions going in groups. I am a sucker for that stuff and eat it up. I love mulling over issues where there isn't one clear answer, arguing with myself and trying to decide which side of the issue I fall on.
I know several people who have said they don't like reading WWII stories that aren't true, since there are so many amazing true stories from survivors out there. I happen to agree with that. BUT. This book isn't so much about the holocaust as it is about sin and forgiveness, redemption and guilt. The author may have only chosen the holocaust because it is the modern atrocity that as a culture we fixate on as the most unforgivable situation imaginable (after all, if asked for the most heinous true-life villain, Hitler would come to mind first for a good number of people).
Although I didn't relate to the main character of this book very well, and I didn't care for her much either, that didn't matter. Somehow Picoult can make me love a book even when its characters are flawed to the point that I can't root for them. That's a rare gift for an author, as I hardly ever like a book if I don't like its characters. But like the historical aspect, the characters are secondary. As for the rest of the characters, I did like a good number of them. Sage seemed a bit self-obsessed, but the others were more engaging. Minka's section began a bit slowly for me, but soon became the focus of the book. Josef's section drew me in and held me in a choke-hold until the end. I wish it had been longer. And though death should be expected in a novel about the Nazi concentration camps, a few of the deaths in this one knocked the breath out of me. They happened so suddenly.
Aside from that, and on to the issue. Can we forgive someone for the most horrific crimes, if they truly repent? Can a life of service and good deeds ever redeem someone for the things they did in the past, if those things include participating in genocide? Is Franz the real monster, for knowing what he did was wrong and still doing it, while Reinert truly believed in the cause he was serving? Is evil more despicable if it is recognized by the evil-doer, or if it is embraced as right by the evil-doer? Can we forgive someone for something they did to someone else?
Although I will continue to ponder some of these moral dilemmas, I did find one of the most satisfying conclusions in this book was when it explains how murder is the only unforgivable sin in the Jewish faith, because it is the only sin in which the sinner cannot ask forgiveness for the one sinned against. I thought that was really wonderful in its simplicity and sensibleness.
As for how these questions relate to the book, I did feel that Franz was the more likeable character, and I truly felt for him. I wanted him to find some sort of peace in death, although I wasn't sure I could have forgiven him in Sage's position. I didn't think it was fair of him to ask her forgiveness, but it did make a certain amount of sense. (view spoiler)[ I guessed WAY ahead of time that Josef was actually Franz, which was a little disappointing, as I like the surprise twist at the end of most Picoult books. I was surprised that Sage didn't find out until she killed him, though. I felt like it was awful of him to pretend to be more despicable than he was so that she would kill him, although I also felt that his making himself into a monster showed some of the remorse he felt was real. However, if he felt so much remorse, why didn't he turn himself in after the war instead of hiding for all those years?  (hide spoiler)]
A few things bothered me in the book. I'm one of those people who notice little inconsistencies or instances where logic fails. Once I notice something amiss, it's hard to let it go. Maybe someone can answer one of the questions I was left with at the novel's conclusion.
1. How did Josef get Minka's notebook? She threw it in a guard's face and ran, AFTER she had left the concentration camp where Josef worked. How did the notebook find its way back to him?
2. Once Minka identified a picture of Reinert from the camps, how was that supposed to prove that he was Josef or that Josef was a Nazi? Leo says that they need proof Josef is telling the truth. But Minka never identifies him. She identifies an old picture from the camp, where Reinert was already reprimanded for the death of the girl. Minka's ID never points any guilt at Josef, but at Reinert. Therefore, she failed to give enough proof for Leo to arrest Josef, so why was he going to arrest him? On what grounds?

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes hot-button issues, or who likes to ponder moral questions. It will leave you pondering for a long, long time.

View all my reviews

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Scrappy Sunday: Map picture frame (Pinterest Project #4)

Here is the very first project I ever made from Pinterest. It was so easy, how could I resist? Plus, I love maps. I love pictures. And I'd never decorated a picture frame before, though I'd always wanted to.

I didn't go look up the website and follow directions or anything. I just found a map I'd picked up on my travels to Florida, and used a picture from the same trip. I used mod podge to glue and finish the frame. I tore the map into pieces and kind of decoupaged them all together. Then I used some sea shells I picked up on the beach on the same trip to finish it out, and added a metal title and a ribbon.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Disaster Chef: Pesto Potatoes (Pinterest Project #3) #foodiefriday

I had a different post planned, but by special request I am postponing that one for a success story: Twice Baked Pesto Potatoes.

I was helping my mom make a family dinner and she had some pesto she wanted used up, so of course the first place I looked was Pinterest (where else)? I was working on Project Pinterest, after all.

I found a recipe for twice-baked pesto potatoes, and though I was skeptical, I gave it a shot. As you can see by my parenthesis'ed comments, I altered a lot of it!

Here was the recipe, from the fantasically photographed See You In the Morning. I have to admit, I'm a little jealous of how pretty hers turned out. But without further ado...

3 russet potatoes (or any kind of good baking potatoes)
2/3 cup arugula pesto, or other pesto (I used regular basil pesto and it turned out delicious)
2/3 cup creme fraiche (I just used sour cream here, since I'm not fancy)
1/3 cup parmesan, grated, plus more for sprinkling
2 cloves garlic, crushed (I skipped this, since my pesto was garlic-heavy already)
1 tbsp chives, chopped (didn't have chives, so I used green onions)
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Wash the potatoes well. With a sharp knife score around the diameter of the potato, just piercing the skin. This makes it easier to cut in equal halves (I did not do this, but it's a good idea. If you don't do this, pierce the potatoes with a knife or fork so they won't explode all over your oven). Bake the potatoes for about an hour, until cooked all the way through. Remove from oven, and let sit until cool enough to handle.  Cut each in half. 
Scoop out the potato from the skins and put into a medium bowl. Fold in the other ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Spoon back into the potato skins. Arrange on baking sheet and sprinkle the tops with Parmesan. Bake for 15 minutes longer until they are golden and melty. 
As I said, I wasn't sure how they'd turn out, as I'd never used pesto on much of anything but pasta. But they were actually quite tasty, and my brother-in-law promptly asked for the recipe. The only drawback to this was not the fault of the recipe (which was fantastic!), but my own. 
See, my mom had just dug the potatoes from her own garden, and a few had nicks in them from the digging fork. I washed them well, but I guess I didn't dig into the little gouges, because my poor husband got a few very sandy bites near the end of his! So a little tip for people using homegrown potatoes...cut out any places where the digging fork might have punctured the skin. Even if it looks all clean, some sand might have worked its way in there!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Manicure Monday! (Pinterest Project #2)

If you've been following my blog, you know I'm writing personal stuff now, more or less. So, here is the next pin I've done in Project Pinterest. This one was a patriotic nail I did. I actually cheated, because I did this one a while back, for the Fourth of July.

I'm not much of a nail-painter, and I have to say, I'm not very good at it! I tried to do a nail project off Pinterest last year and it was an epic fail. I ended up with spilled vodka and torn up newspaper all over my bathroom floor. This time, I tried for something a little less ambitious. I found a pin with ten patriot nail projects. I picked one that looked relatively easy, abandoned any ideas on making stars, and went for silver instead of white, because that's what I had. I didn't try to get perfect stripes, either. I like this one, because I could totally use it for candy-cane stripes at Christmas, too. Here's how they looked.

I painted a couple coats of silver (Gabriel brand) on first, then did the red stripes. Then added blue (Gabriel again) on a nail of each hand, then free-handed the silver dots. I figured everyone would know what they were supposed to be, even if they weren't perfect little stars!

 The silver polish has a foil-like texture after it dries, and a whole fingernail of paint came off in one big flake the second day! You can see in the bottom pic that the little finger is not's because the paint fell off! I know they look all sloppy compared to people who use stencils and have fake nails and all that. But, I'm not a professional. I just did it for fun, and I liked the way it turned out. I even did my toes after I finished the fingernails. I felt so festive, and got lots of compliments. I may even do a different one next year!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Disaster Chef: Foodie Friday! (Pinterest Project #1)

Okay, so I don't usually blog about personal stuff, like what I'm eating. But lately I've realized just how many pins I've accumulated on pinterest, so I decided to start actually doing some of them. So...without further ado, Project Pinterest was born. I'm vowing to make at least one thing from my Pinterest boards every week, whether it's a recipe or a craft project or a diy.

The one I chose this week was a recipe. I got back from vacation and hadn't gone to the grocery store, so the fridge was looking awfully empty. I found some dried beans in the pantry and put them on to cook in the slow cooker. Then I went to Pinterest for some inspiration.

I found a recipe for Great Northern Bean stew, and miraculously, I had most of the ingredients. Anyone who has ever been around me when I'm cooking knows that it's practically impossible for me to follow a recipe exactly. I always adapt, substitute, or in some other way make the recipe my own. This one was no different. I can't say it worked out exactly as planned, but it was edible.

First of all, it called for canned beans, which I didn't use. I put the beans in the Crock-Pot with 3x the water and an onion. Then I left it to cook. I checked it a few times, since I was home all day. It seemed like the beans were taking forever to soften up. So I left it alone for a few hours. When I came back, the beans were completely cooked. Oops...I was supposed to add some vegetables somewhere along the way.

I had to take the beans out and set them aside. Then I put the veggies in the slow-cooker with some water and left for about an hour. When I came back, the water wasn't even boiling. I had to abandon the slow-cooker and put them in a pot on the stove. They still took ages to cook! Meanwhile, my husband had come home. Luckily, he was patient as I checked the veggies every 5 minutes for what seemed like an hour. I didn't have enough carrots, so I used the quarter bag of baby carrots I had in the fridge and added a turnip in place of the rest. I also used fresh basil, since we have plenty. I added about 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil before it cooked, then added another 2 tbs of fresh basil and cilantro about 5 minutes before it was done. I added the beans back in, and a little bit of extra cloves. I didn't have frozen corn, so I cut kernels off an ear of fresh corn that was lurking in the vegetable drawer while I was on vacation. Also, since I used dried beans instead of canned, I had to add some extra salt.

Thankfully, it turned out quite edible. I don't know that I'll make it again, as I like stews with more vegetables. But this one wasn't bad. It's quite filling, and vegetarian for those interested.

Here's the original recipe from Greener Eating via Pinterest, along with my adaptations in parentheses.

3 c. water (I used 2 cups of dried beans, so 6 cups of water, more later for cooking the veggies)
1 to 2 c. potatoes, diced (I used probably 3 cups)
2 carrots, diced or grated (here I used 1 large turnip and a handful of chopped baby carrots)
1 large sweet onion, chopped (I cooked one in the beans, and added another small one w/ veggies)
1 clove garlic, minced (1/2 t. fridge garlic) (I used 3 cloves)
2 T. fresh cilantro (see above)
1 T. dried basil (see above)
2 t. chili powder
1/4 t. ground cloves (doubled this)
1 t. salt (doubled this)
2 cans great northern beans, undrained* (I used 2 cups dried, about 4 cooked)
1 c. frozen sweet white corn** (Kernels off one ear of corn. If I made it again, I'd use more corn for sure).