Thursday, August 31, 2006

Green Corn Tamale Pie

Well, I can't believe it, but it's been a long week since I posted last - we've hired a new employee at work, so there have been extra things taking up my mind lately. BUT, I promised you that I'd share the Green Corn Tamale Pie recipe that I have.

As long as I've known him, my husband has raved, every summer, about the Green Corn Tamales that he used to get in Tucson where he spend part of his "growin' up years". Not being a big tamale fan, I was always, like "that's nice dear" - if you know what I mean... I'm a fairly decent cook, and I did earnestly search through cookbooks for such a recipe but nothing came up UNTIL...

About 5 years ago, I was reading through my new "Sunset" magazine (which I've subscribed to since the early 1970's) and there it was - not only a recipe, but a whole article on "Tucson Tamale Pie"! I read the article and thought "Ho, boy, this is it" - but when I excitedly showed it to John, he kind of "poo-pooed" me - saying "Oh, it couldn't be as good" etc.

Well, I really wanted to try it out - and we had a potluck to go to - so there you go - You can take anything to a potluck and if it looks halfway any good, it'll be gone right away, and you won't be stuck eating left-overs of some horrible dish. Long story short - everyone, including John, loved it and I even had people asking me for the recipe!

The recipe called for lining your casserole dish with corn husks - well that went by the wayside after the first go-round - too much trouble and it didn't really add anything but a little ambiance to the dish. It also called for a chorizo & nopalito (cactus strips) sauce to spoon over the top, but since JP doesn't like sausage, that didn't fly either. Here is my revised version of the recipe that appeared in the Sept. 2001 issue of "Sunset".

Green Corn Tamale Pie

(Recipe says it makes 8 servings - I bake it in my Pampered Chef 9x13 stoneware baking dish - so if it was used as a side dish - that's probably about right - we generally eat about 1/2 of it "fresh" and I wrap the other 2 quarters in Saran Wrap & foil and stick it in the freezer for a mid-winter treat)

7 pounds corn on the cob (8 or 10 ears) We have been using an Indian/sweet corn hybrid that John found someplace (if you really want to know, he'll research it) - it has a very strong "corny" flavor that stands up to the green chilies better than regular sweet corn.

3/4 cup dehydrated masa flour (I'm sure you can probably buy it in bulk to just get the 3/4 cup that you need, but I always end up buying a whole new 5# sack of the stuff - it's cheap -

1/3 cup olive oil
2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese (1/2 lb)
1 can (7 oz.) diced green chilies (drained)
1 & 1/2 tsp salt

1. Husk your corn & pull off the silks from the ears (makes good sheep treats). Holding each ear upright, cut off the kernels; you need 7 cups. Discard cobs (makes good chicken treats).
[Someplace earlier this summer I read that if you're cutting the kernels off the cob, use a Bundt pan - the center stem makes a perfect place to balance your ear of corn & the pan catches all the corn kernels & juice - I tried it - very cool way to do it.]

2. Put your 7 cups of corn kernels, masa, olive oil & salt into a bowl and mix it up. Working in batches in a food processor (or you can use a blender if you're desparate, but the food processor works eons better) I do about 2 cups at a time - (small food processor) - whirl until the corn is finely ground - scrape the mixture into another bowl until you are done - Stir in your shredded cheese & drained green chilies.

3. Spray the bottom & sides of your casserole dish with non-stick spray (or you could line it with corn husks, but what a lot of work and you loose some of the mixture getting stuck in the folds of the husks) Spread the corn/cheese mixture into your baking dish, making sure it is level. Cover with foil.

4. Bake at 350 degrees until the corn mixture is steaming and slightly firm to the touch in the center (uncover to check) 55-60 minutes, taking care that it doesn't overcook - you're not making cornbread here. Let the dish stand covered for about 10 minutes after you remove it from the oven.

Like I said earlier, the recipe called for putting a mixture of fried chorizo & cactus strips on it or a nice green salsa on top of it. We eat it plain - it makes a nice side dish for fajitas or chicken enchiladas. If you want the skinny on the chorizo mix - let me know and I'll email it to you. Happy eating!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

On the farm of late...

I just had to show you this cool picture of our weeping giganticum flashing the "Peace Sign" to our neighborhood!

Tiger lillies are in bloom,

and the hops have set fruit - they are practically indestructible - and make a good shade plant on the greenhouse arbor.

John has finished the barn for the boys...

They like their new hay feeder & it is lower so it almost keeps the little flakes of hay out of their wool.

Our pasture is dry as a bone - this has been one of the dryest summers on record in the Pacific NW. Although, it doesn't look like anyone has missed any meals, now, does it....

John plants this special Indian/sweet corn hybrid cross - I use it to make green corn tamale pie, a recipe I found in Sunset a few years ago. I'll tell you more about it in the next day or so - it's late & I'm tired.

Girls out to Lunch

The ladies I work with had an excellent day today. Our friend Melanie (who also happens to be the bosses wife, which was how we could get away with this) invited us up to their beautiful home to have lunch!


Kay & Bekah enjoyed their sandwiches!

and Rascal made sure he got his share...

After our delicious lunch we went for a walk through Melanie's beautiful gardens

Sometimes, the benefits of working for a small business are endless. Many thanks to Jamie & Jim & all the guys who took over answering the phones so we gals could go have a nice lunch together!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Weekend cat blogging

This is Sinda, of course - it's her weekend - Last week was Neelix's turn -

Such a lovely lady, and such a pain in the butt sometimes. I guess, at 16 years (late 70's in human years) she's allowed to be a little persnickety.

Want to see more beautiful & talented cats - go to Heather's Space ( for Weekend Cat Blogging #62

Have a great one.

Sinda says "This is definately my "best side"

Off to the Fair We Went

We generally go to the fair for one reason - to watch the draft horse show - it is generally fun and exciting and today was no exception. I believe that Whatcom County has, if I remember correctly, 8, count em' EIGHT six horse hitches of draft horses, and boy are they pretty. and they get them all out in the ring & let them "do their thing", which is a crazy combination of circles & etc, and as you can see from this picture they are going every which way. And they've been doing it for so long, that the horses never run into each other.

After the "big guys" are done, they bring in the 8 horse pony hitches - there are only 4 of those - and it's a good thing, because those little guys really get to rolling - flat out at a run!

The other thing we went to see this year was the Sheep to Shawl demonstration - we had donated one of Thorson's fleeces for this one, and everyone really loved it - the staples (or locks, for those of you who don't spin) were really long on this fleece - and it spun like a dream. The pile in the middle of this picture has been picked & run through a drum carder. Doesn't it just look like cotton candy?

They were using a floor loom this time that had been prepared with a red yard to weave in the beautiful white yarn that they were spinning, to make a shawl. I had some other fun pictures of the weaving, but for some reason, they won't download. Who knows - anyhow - we had the cattlemen's Brisket sandwich w/coleslaw & beans for lunch (with a lemonade, of course) I had a lime snow cone on our way out of the fairgraounds - light on the syrup...

It was way too hot for me - and we'd worried that it might be too much for John to do, after being off with the flu all week...but he's fine tonight - my knees & feet feel like they've walked a million miles. But it was fun. Now we don't have to go for another four or five years.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Thought for the Day

In my small "cleaning frenzy" this weekend I found a couple of articles on stress that I had torn out of the magazine Woman's World. The magazine reports that a British study showed that you can erase up to 65% of your anxiety triggered jitters and replace them with feelings of bliss simply by flooding your brain with TWO minutes of positive images of things you love - - your friends, your family, your dog, bouquets of pink roses, anything you feel passionate about. "When you focus all your attention on positive thoughts, you instantly dampen your production of cortisol and other harmful stress hormones," explains Larina Kase, PsyD., from U of Penn. Bonus: You'll also banish sleep woes that go hand in hand with anxiety & stress

The other thing to watch out for is High Fructose Corn Syrup. That stuff is in EVERYTHING! Read labels - do what you can to keep it out of your diet. And take minerals - (calcuim, magnesium & zinc). They soothe and nourish your adrenal glands, reduce inflammation and blood pressure and ease muscle tension. Together these can also lower cortisol levels. (Cortisol has been found to trigger a host of health problems including obesity, heart disease and MEMORY FADE!) *Maybe THAT'S my problem...too much cortisol is causing "CRS"...

Don't forget to visit with your friends. Venting to a trusted friend may reduce your cortisol production by 400%.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Weekend Cat Blogging

Neelix rests after working so hard to provide for the family dinner table.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Bumper Stickers & Pasta Salad

Hmmm - it's kind of a reach to combine those two isn't it? But hey - I got my Sheep & Cats for Peace bumper sticker today & put it on my car! We'll see what kind of a response I get from my "R" friends...


When I sold Pampered Chef products, one of my favorite dishes to demonstrate was called "Confetti Pasta Salad" It used a lot of high end products (hopefully selling alot of them in the process) and it was a quick & easy. It has chopped vegetables & pasta, and is dressed with Italian dressing. As a consultant, we weren't allowed to eat at the parties - the food was for our host's guests. But this salad would always look & smell so good that I'd have to stop at Haggen on the way home to buy the ingredients so I could make one for myself. And I mean for "myself" because you all know that John doesn't like garlicy things.

Over time, I added & changed the recipe and came up with this version, which I call:

Greek Confetti Pasta Salad (serves 8 - 10, great for potlucks)

8 – 12 oz package of tri-colored pasta – radiatore (short chunky ruffled pieces of pasta) or fiori (these look like little flowers) or your favorite. Cooked & cooled; Put it in your big yellow Tupperwear bowl (doesn’t everyone have one of these?)

For the dressing combine: ½ cup red wine vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil (I like to mix ½ EVOO & ½ Canola – the EVOO gives it great flavor and the canola keeps it from “setting up” in the fridge)
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 T sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp Pampered Chef Italian Herb mix (or you can substitute
½ tsp dried oregano, ¼ tsp dried basil & ¼ tsp onion powder)

Put this all in a pint jar and shake it up. Let it sit and “get happy”

CHOP AND ADD TO THE PASTA: (Often you can find a package of veggies, cleaned and ready for a veggie tray in your deli – this package is just about the right amount of each and you don’t have any leftovers)

Next, add:
¾ cup crumbled Feta Cheese
6 oz Salami – thinly sliced then sliced into “ribbons”
½ can of black olives, sliced in half *use the whole can if you like olives
½ cup grated parmesan cheese

Optional (to taste):

Toss the veggies, cheeses, salami, olives & pasta. Shake the dressing vigorously & pour about ½ of the jar over the pasta mixture to start. At this point, I also add between ½ & 1 cup of Best Foods Mayonnaise, it “mellows” out the salad – but dressing a salad is a matter of taste – I generally end up using all of the homemade Italian dressing (you could use your favorite bottled brand if you like) plus the mayo. This salad is best made early in the day so the flavors will meld together. Just before you serve it sprinkle on another ½ cup of grated Parmesan cheese over the top.

Hope you enjoy it.

And here's what's happening in the garden today:

The pumpkins are getting BIG!

The bees are very Busy on the sunflowers

AND the Rose of Sharon is starting to bloom - soon it will be hard to get out the back door!

It's going to be a busy weekend - my friend Nancy K. has inspired me to clean up my "horrible" corner of the dining room that houses my computer - wish me luck!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Weekend cat blogging & New Toys

Here she is, Ms. Sinda, looking prim & proper (& hiding from Neelix, I'm sure).

She had all kinds of things to say to the Service man from Lehmann's Applicance who came out Friday a.m. to put in our NEW DISHWASHER!!! The old one was new with the house 12 years ago and a "budget" version at that - we're lucky it lasted as long as it did. (Well actually it stopped cleaning the stuff in the top rack, well, about mid April, but we've had other things on our minds since then...)

And speaking of NEW TOYS!!!

This is(was) Thorson's play ball - it is flat from being thwacked tooooo many times.

Here's John, hoping that Thorson doesn't decide to make a "play ball" out of him while he does the change out to the new ball.

Hmmm - smells kind of like the old one.....

Yes, I do believe this one is acceptable. We're back in business!

Just another day's work on the farm. Ha, Ha, Ha...

Saturday, August 05, 2006

A Sobering Dose of Reality

In May, after I told my friends about my cancer diagnosis, I recieved an email from my friend Mattie, who said she had a friend who had just had the same surgery that I was facing - would I like to talk to her? Sure I said - and we exchanged email addresses & phone numbers, etc.

Turned out that this woman was a customer of the company where I work - so we had some "common ground" to start with - 'M' was not as "lucky" as I was though - her cancer was more advanced and they had removed some lymph glands. After her recovery from surgery, she would be facing radiation therapy. We talked some - I wished her good luck & "intended" on getting back to her once I got back from Seattle & surgery.

You know what they say about the road to hell, don't you? Well, after surgery & during my own recuperation, I was pretty much focused on myself - & I must say that I have recovered from the surgery far faster than expected (I have to stop picking up heavy things tho - that's been my downfall to this point)

Anyhow, 'M' had been on my mind for a couple of weeks - I had not saved her email address, so I emailed Mattie - who was, unbeknownst to me, in France (oh, la, la!) - thankfully when she returned last week, she sent me 'M's email address with the caution that she was not doing well, and might not be able to return my note. But I emailed her anyhow, hoping for the best (and sending a card in the mail as a backup).

I got a response from my email a day later - and it was very sobering. Turns out they gave her too much radiation, landing her in the hospital for a week, then manifesting itself in a kind of radiation poisoning with sores and painful joints. The good news is that it will go away - the bad news is when it does, she will have to have chemo.

Ok, so I cried for most of the rest of the day. No, not big bawling tears, but just private little sniffles - it makes me cry even now. I've heard that the first thing many people say to their doctors after a cancer diagnosis is "Why ME?" I guess my thought is 'How did I come through so easily?' I have been pondering this all week long - am I supposed to feel guilt - am I supposed to do "more" with my life?

I don't know - so I'm putting this "on the table" so to speak - My thoughts and prayers are with 'M' and I wish her the best in her recovery...

And life goes on -

Tomorrow - new toys all around, my favorite pasta salad recipe and more weekend cat blogging.