a view from the laundry pile…

…it's all about perspective.

Haricot Vert (French Green Beans) and Herbs

If I suddenly found myself in France (or any other French-speaking country), I’m confident I could find the bathroom or buy a bouquet of begonias with no trouble. Anything past that would consist of a lot of gesturing and speaking loudly (because we all know that talking louder helps people understand us better…*cough*).

So, the first time I saw “Haricot Vert,” I was a little confused. It looked like a package of small, skinny green beans. I came to find out, that’s exactly what they were; a longer, thinner French version of the American type. I was intrigued. I had to get them even though I didn’t know, exactly, how I was going to fix them. But I had a good idea of where to start and I’m sure some cookbooks could help fill in any blanks.

This is quickly becoming a favorite side dish in our house. The subtle crispness of the green beans and the burst of flavors from the mix of ingredients make it just delicious.

French Green Beans and Herbsgreen beans

  • 1 lb. French Green Beans, washed and trimmed
  • 1/4 cup Onions, small diced
  • 3 Tbs. Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp. Thyme, dried (use more if using fresh)
  • 1/2 tsp. Garlic, minced
  • Salt
  • 1 Lemon (cut into wedges)

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and boil the beans 2 minutes.
  2. After the 2 minutes, drain them and drop them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large fry pan.
  4. Add the onions and cook, about 2-3 minutes, until they’re translucent.
  5. Add the green beans and garlic and saute’ 2-3 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle with a bit of salt (to taste) and serve with the lemon wedges (1 wedge per serving).

Tips:

  • Take the time to boil the beans first. When rushed for time, I tried it without this step and it didn’t come out the same – the beans were tough. 
  • Don’t ditch the lemon. It “brightens” the dish giving it a nice, fresh taste.
  • You can use butter instead of olive oil – or a mix of both.
  • Add other herbs if you want. Try Tarragon or Parsley. Spice it up with Curry! Green beans are very “accepting” when it comes to adding flavors!
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Fabulous evening!

For me, sunsets are right up in the “top 10” of things I like to photograph. No two are ever the same and, here, they usually include clouds and water (two more things in my “top 10”), so what’s not to like?

After a lovely dinner out, this week, Fred and I drove around town to look at the beautiful evening sky.

sunset may 13a

Even the boat haven took on a new look with the pink clouds popping up behind the cupola house.

DSC_0202aa

During the summer months the sun sets right by the cliffs that overlook Puget Sound. Add a great old picket fence, some driftwood, a few incoming waves and it just doesn’t get much better than that.

 

sunset may 13

We hope you enjoyed your evening as much as we did ours!

 

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Yard & Garden Art Sale Sneak Peek

Fred and I have been making various yard and garden “art” for our own home, for years now, with most of it being “experimental.” After being asked, by several people now, where they could get some of the items they’ve seen around our place, we decided to make some things to sell. Though some of the ideas are not “new” (it’s just a wild guess here that more than one person has come up with the idea of making a bench or bird feeder…), we’ve managed to put our own “twist” on them, such as design and artwork, to make it our own. We’re quite proud of what we’ve come up with so far. And, the best part? Most of this is done with scrap wood & re/upcycled pieces!

art composit

(Starting upper left, circling right; a bird house & birdie banner, bird feeder, large planter pot, small planter pots, one of the 3 upcycled wood benches that Fred made that I hand painted & sealed)

In addition to the items here, I’ve also done a few more recycled wood signs, box planters, bird houses, other not yet finished yard art and plants that we nurtured and grew ourselves! I think this will be fun!

(All the artwork is my own but I will share how I did the large cream/brown planter pot (middle right photo)…mostly because this will, more than likely, be the only one I ever do of this. I got the “brilliant” idea to glue lace (yes, actual lace) onto a pot then paint it to give it a “dimensional” look. Had I known it would take SIX coats of paint to finish this, I never would’ve started. However, I think it really turned out pretty and perhaps, if you try it yourself, you’ll come up with a better way to do this!).

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Tofu Saute’

I kept trying to come up with another name to call this so that the one or two of you (I’m being optimistic), who really don’t like tofu would, at least, read this nice blog. However, it is what it is. SO, for those of you “fu” eaters…

They say you “eat with your eyes, first” so the dishes you make should look appealing. However, if it doesn’t taste good, the whole “eye theory” flies out the window and, at that point, your dish becomes worm fodder. One of the most influential parts of making a dish taste good is the “texture” of the food (this is the most important thing, according to Fred (aka: “Mr. I-can’t-eat-tomatoes-because-they-feel-weird-in-my-mouth”), which is why this dish, simple as it is, works so well.

Tofu Saute’tofu sautee

Ingredients:

  • 1 block (about 10-12 oz.) drained, packaged or fresh Tofu, (don’t use Silken Tofu — too mushy…texture, texture…)
  • 2 Tbs. Soy Sauce (I use gluten-free Tamari, instead)

You can either cube the tofu and marinate it in the soy sauce OR you can add the soy sauce to the pan when it’s cooking. I prefer to cube & marinade.

  • 1/2 Sweet Pepper (I used yellow — it was what I had on hand — you can use green or red – or a combination of all)
  • 1/2 medium Tomato (any color, any variety)

Cube the tofu and cut the peppers and tomatoes roughly the same size — about 1/2 normal “bite-sized.”

  • 1/4 Onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. Olive Oil (I also added about 1/2 tsp. minced garlic to the oil)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese (I used Soy “Cheddar.” Not great on its own but, in this, really good)
  • 1 cup (or more) shredded Lettuce

Directions

  1. Heat a large frying pan (it’s supposed to help things from sticking if you heat it first. Sometimes it works for me, sometimes it doesn’t. It depends on what I’m frying).
  2. Add the tofu (and soy if you didn’t use as a marinade).
  3. Cook the tofu until it’s brown (slightly crispy, if you want) and then add the peppers & onion until the veggies are crisp-tender.
  4. Add the tomatoes and cook until they’re heated through.

To serve this (I like it, as pictured, with my homemade gluten-free flat bread) top with a sprinkle of cheese, then a big handful of shredded lettuce. Now, you may be saying “lettuce for breakfast?” Yes, indeedy! However, if you just can’t stomach it, eat this for lunch or dinner but DON’T skip the lettuce! Remember what I was saying about “texture?” This is it. The crisp, cold lettuce on top of the warm saute’ is divine.

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MusicalMe Kids (with MY artwork!)

Okay, so this might go beyond shameless self-promotion but I’m just too darned excited about it not to share it with you. I was asked to do the cartoon icons for a new iTunes application called “MusicalMe Kids.” Originally, I thought I had 2-3 weeks to finish the 16 icons but, within 24 hours, it was dropped to 1 week. That, in itself, was a huge challenge for me as I must be the slowest painter I know. (I could never charge anyone by the hour because of this – I’d be sitting in the dark, scraping beans out of a can, a dog tucked in each armpit to keep warm — all MM screen shotbecause I’d be broke due to no one hiring me…but, I digress…)

The application, itself, is really quite ingenious. It allows you to either take new photos or use photos you already have, on your iphone or ipad, and add music to them!  (This is where it gets really good…). Each color in the photo coordinates with a different note on the musical scale – the more colors you have the more notes you have to play with! You can choose the notes or have the application do it for you. Then, once your “masterpiece” is done, you can even save it or send it to someone! What a great way for kids to express themselves and learn about music (I, especially, think deployed military family would love getting pictures with songs from the kids, don’t you?).

In addition to musical instrument sounds, they also have animal sounds (and a cute little girl giggling!). I played around with it as soon as it came out — I’m hooked and I’m not a kid (well, at heart, I am…).

Keep your fingers and toes crossed that this is going to be a really big hit. I’m so proud and honored to be a part of it!

Here’s the link for it if you want to take a peek!   MusicalMe Kids

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