Friday, March 25, 2011

A fruitful harvest

This morning when I stepped outside I was tempted to turn around, put my pajamas back on and crawl under the covers until a real spring settled on Chicago. With better judgment and a paycheck in mind I ventured out onto the snow dusted deck, down the four million icy steps and headed to work. While stopping for a morning latte, I thought "there has to be a glimpse of spring somewhere." When I came home at lunch time I saw it...that glimpse of spring was staring me in the face. You see, every since we moved into our condo Mr. Jordan has discovered that he has quite a green thumb. Last summer our deck was covered with an over grown tomato plant, different kinds of peppers, and a rosemary plant. This year Mr. Jordan is expanding. He planted lots of tomato, basil, bell pepper and jalapeƱo pepper seeds. In just a short time these little seedlings have sprouted. Mr. Jordan moves the little seedlings to the back door for sun during the day and they greeted me when I walked in. I can't wait to see all the plants covering our back deck and Mr. Jordan protecting his plants from the city dwelling pigeons and was quite a battle last year until we discovered a little plastic dinosaur and the reflection from a CD was all it took to scare away the critters.

So here's to a fruitful harvest and hopefully no more snow!

Here's a good resource for anyone looking to plant an urban garden:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Me me’s Napoli Beef Tips

Mr. Jordan and I are both social workers at a fairly small office so when we first started dating we decided not to tell anyone at work about our relationship (of course most already knew by the time we finally made the announcement). But we would plan lunch dates almost every day. One of our absolute favorite dinner leftovers was Matt’s grandmother’s recipe for Napoleon Beef Tips. Matt would heat up the Napoleon Beef Tips and we would meet at a nearby park…sharing lunch and soaking in the sun. It was those innocent little lunch dates that allowed me to get to know Mr. Jordan’s kind and patient heart, which of course led to falling in love. Sometimes we would have really great conversations and sometimes we would just relax or play catch. I was so sad when the end of fall came and it was too cold to meet at the park. Meeting at a restaurant would have got really expensive…we are social workers after all.

Here we are 2 ½ years later…married with a mortgage and planning for our future and to think it all started over Me me’s Napoleon Beef Tips. I never knew Me me but I know that she had a grandson that cared a lot about her.

(Me me’s recipe 1960)

3 lbs. boneless chuck, rump or stew beef
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. Wesson Oil (ha ha original recipe!)
1  ½ c. water
2 (6 oz.) cans of Hunt’s Tomato Paste
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. sugar
1 tsp. oregano
1 small carrot (thinly sliced)
1 clove garlic (crushed) or 1/8th tsp. garlic powder
1 lb. sea shell or elbow macaroni
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley or chives

Cut beef into 1 ½ to 2 inch cubes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  In large skillet, brown meat in Wesson.  Mix tomato paste with water, lemon juice, sugar, oregano, carrot and garlic.  Pour over meat and cover.  Simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours until beef is tender.  Add more water if sauce thickens too fast.  Salt to taste.  Serve with boiled & drained macaroni blended with Parmesan cheese and parsley. Makes 6 servings.

Mr. Jordan substitutes the 2 cans of tomato paste for 1 can of tomato paste and 2 cans of tomato sauce.

Running Update
On a side note…I have been training for a 25K and each weekend I look at which day it will reach at least 40 degrees so I can do a long run outside. Oh how I am yearning for warmer weather. The coolest thing about living in the city is the ability to run 10 miles and observe a new scene every five minutes. This past weekend as I was making my way downtown I came across Chicago’s Buckingham Fountain and decided to take a picture with my phone. I thought I would do this every weekend until May to track spring’s progress.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Banana Pudding

One of the saddest times of my life was two summers ago when my grandmother passed away unexpectedly from Ovarian Cancer. My grandmother was such a significant part of my life. I have so many great memories of my grandmother. When I was a child my grandmother worked at a Doughnut Shop (which perhaps made her the coolest Grandmother in the world) but most Fridays I spent with my Grandmother at the Doughnut Shop eating fresh doughnuts and all the chocolate milk I could drink.
I still remember the first time she met Mr. Jordan. Even though we had only been dating for two months my grandmother knew we would get married and she had no problem telling us so.
Since her passing, I’ve had two dreams about my grandmother. In both of the dreams she sees me and says “hi sugar” and I give her the biggest hug. I’ve awoken with tears in my eyes both times. I miss my grandmother so much but I feel so blessed to have such wonderful memories of my grandmother.
As you will quickly discover, I LOVE sweets! This may be why my Grandmother called me “sugar,” well me and all her other grandkids. Here is my grandmother’s Banana Pudding recipe. Since my Grandmother didn’t have an actual recipe for her banana pudding I had to watch her make it and write down her estimates and various techniques…you’ll see!

Grandmother’s Banana Pudding Recipe

3 cups milk
1 cup sugar
3 egg whites
½ cup flour
½ cup butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
Vanilla wafers
  • In a sauce pan combine 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of sugar. Cook on medium High heat.
  • Combine egg whites and ½ cup of milk in a jar and shake. Add mixture to pan and continue stirring.
  • Combine 1 ½ cups of milk and ½ cup of flour in a jar and shake until lumps are gone. Add mixture to pan and continue stirring.
  • Once mixture is thick add ½ cup of butter. After the butter has melted remove the pan from the burner and add 1 tsp of vanilla. Stir mixture.
  • Line the bottom and sides of an 8X8 baking pan with vanilla wafers and thinly sliced bananas.
  • Pour pudding mixture over bananas.
  • Finish by lining the top of pudding with vanilla wafers (or put some in wine glasses for you and your husband and some in mason jars for the neighbors).
  • Serve warm or refrigerate.

You’ll notice at the side of my page there is a link about Ovarian Cancer Research. For every click money will be donated to this cause. Ovarian Cancer is known as a silent killer because most women who develop Ovarian Cancer do not discover they have Ovarian Cancer until it is too late.