We’ve all felt a little desperate at dinnertime
And Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross are there to offer support. They’ve written Desperation Dinners: Home-cooked meals for frantic families in 20 minutes flat.
I picked up a copy of this book at a used book store a year or two ago. And it sat in my cabinet. And sat. I’d flip through it and put it back down. I recently decided that I either needed to use it or pitch it. And, wow–glad I decided to keep it.
I’ve tried several things from it. I tried a rice dinner, a frozen ravioli dinner, a chicken and pasta dinner, and shepherd’s pie. The recipes are easy, fairly inexpensive, and don’t dirty up too many dishes. I also noticed they use some overlapping ingredients, which is pretty cool.
Don’t get me wrong–these recipes aren’t fancy or going to be served at your next dinner party. But, they’ve made dinner much more interesting than tacos and chicken legs. I highly recommend it for busy families with limited time for cooking dinner.
Here’s the shepherd’s pie dinner:
I first heard about the Silver Palate Cookbook from a friend, who had made the wonderful Chicken Marbello. Awesome recipe! Love it lots. So, I bought the cookbook.
Mostly what I make from it is the Chicken Marbello. However, I have branched out a little here and there. I recently made the Lemon Chicken. It was really yummy. I think I would decrease the liquid just a little bit because I felt like the bottom of the chicken was a little slimy. But overall, it was quite tasty and comes out very pretty. Makes a nice presentation!
South Florida Museum’s family night!
Now, this is only an option the first Saturday of the month–but, it’s one of the best Saturdays nights our family has had in a while. And did I mention it’s half price after 5pm?
The South Florida Museum is in downtown Bradenton and is home to Snooty, the oldest manatee in captivity. Learn about local history, as well as Florida’s archaeological and paleontological past. They have tons of local memorabilia and artifacts that you just won’t find anywhere else. The museum incorporates sound and video into many exhibits and did a great job of varying the height of displays–which is perfect for children. The entire museum is spiffed up, compared to years past, and the displays and exhibits are quite modern.
I’ve been there many a time, but never had a visit as enjoyable as this with Snooty the Manatee. Snooty was a real ham, making noises and gestures and practically crawling out of the tank. Perhaps we were lucky or he’s just frisky on Saturday nights–but the manatee presentation was extra fun this time around. The presenter for the manatee show was informative and very good with questions. We went away having learned quite a bit about manatees.
The current rotating exhibit is about Silver Springs and the photos of Bruce Mozert. It looks like that exhibit ends today–so maybe the next family night will have something new. But we really liked the old pictures of Silver Springs and especially enjoyed the up-close look at the equipment Mr. Mozert used.
In addition to the regular parts of the museum, they opened up the planetarium for star talks and a rock-n-roll laser show. These are real treats. Right before you go into the planetarium they have craft stations for the little ones, which really spices up this Saturday night adventure. Since it was mermaid night this time, you could get your picture taken with a mermaid. I saw dads and kids alike take part in this photo session.
Why not give it a try? Learn more about the specifics at: http://www.southfloridamuseum.org/ThingsToDo/FamilyNights.aspx.
I’ve made a commitment to read at least 1 book a week in 2012. That’s 52 books. Here are some of my ideas:
- The Secret
- Shanghai Girls
- The DD Warren series by Lisa Gardner
- A Michael Pollan book
- The Giver
- the Scarpetta books I haven’t read yet
I’m grateful my parents instilled this love of reading!
PS: I had pre-arranged this post to publish today. I’ve had to write this postscript because I figured out that it just ain’t gonna happen. I still want to read a lot but I think I might have to change this resolution to this: I will read 15 minutes a day for pleasure. Perhaps I can change that as the year progresses, but we are already so busy!
@ChrisBrogan publishes his three words every year. This encouraged me to create my own for 2012.
My three words for 2012 are:
Here are some of my commitments for 2012 (in no particular order):
- Read 1 book a week.
- Keep better apprised of local events.
- Approach 1 new potential client a week.
- Laugh more.
- Be more grateful.
- Cook 1 new recipe a week.
- Start a weekly Twitter chat.
- Do 3 projects a month with the kids.
- Think more positively.
- Take longer to draw conclusions.
- Diversify my writing.
- Make better grocery lists.
The other day I told someone that sometimes you have to be grateful for what you’ve got. That gave me pause, as sometimes I forget that I have so much for be grateful for! Isn’t this something we all forget sometimes?
So, I decided to make 2012 a year for being grateful for all that I have, instead of focusing on all I don’t have. Won’t you join me?
I’ll kick of this year with being grateful for having a healthy family. So many people can’t say this.
The Big Orange Book never lets you down
So I dove back in to Rachael Ray’s Big Orange Book again. I made the Dinner-Size Texas Chili Cheese Fries. She didn’t let me down this time either. As she says, the recipe was Yummo!
There was a hiccup, though. Totally nothing to do with the recipe, but with a faulty box of beef broth. I knew I should have gone with the beer she offered as an alternative! So I actually ended up making these twice (well, the chili part anyways).
I thought the chili was a nice mix of sweet and spicy, with a nice blend of onions and jalapenos. I ended up adding in beans, since I had some on hand and I didn’t have enough beef. I think this might not make it Texas style anymore? I also added some sour cream on top. This added an extra oomph.
The potatoes didn’t disappoint either, they were a nice thick yet crispy texture. I had a little trouble with the cheese sauce, but I think it is because I didn’t add enough flour at the beginning.
So, on your next night in or for Sunday football party–give these a try. You can find the recipe on Rachael Ray’s site here. My pic is below. Enjoy!
Is the Passive Voice Always Bad?
Apparently. For my high school teacher told me so. So does the Internet, WordPress, and most writing professionals. But, how do you avoid the passive voice completely?
I thought I was the only one with this problem, for quite a while. The more I read, from people whose writing I respect, the more I notice it’s widely used. So, I did some research about some ideas to avoid it. I started with Wikipedia, of course:
- I learned that, generally, you can rewrite the sentence to make it less passive. Ok–but some of those sentence structures sound pretty odd to me.
Then I turned to a favorite source, Grammar Girl:
- Her article gets to the point, as usual. The rewriting makes more sense when she explains it. It also assures me that I can still use the passive voice sometimes.
I often find About.com to be useful, so popped on over there:
- They pointed out something about agentless passive. That is so official sounding.
E-How said something funny (yet practical) in their article about the passive voice:
- Think in the active voice.