Grandma's Taco Salad

I was trying to figure out what to do with some ground turkey in my freezer. Then I remembered that I have some lettuce, tomatoes and dried kidney beans - and voila, I'm halfway to having what I need to make Grandma Gilliam's Taco Salad. This is my grandma on my dad's side - she grew up on a farm in North Dakota, moved to Seattle to work at Boeing during WWII and settled in the Yakima area. (That really has nothing to do with the salad, I just thought I'd provide a little background.)

This salad doesn't involve anything particularly innovative or interesting; it's just easy and healthy, and it tastes good! You could easily make it vegetarian by just leaving out the meat.

Grandma Gilliam's Taco Salad

Lettuce - whatever kind you prefer: green, read, iceberg
Ground beef or turkey
Taco seasoning
Kidney beans
Green onions
Grated cheese - cheddar, colby, pepper jack, whatever
Fritos - you can try other brands, but I think Fritos rule!
Catalina dressing
Other ideas: avocado, sour cream, salsa

Cook the ground meat with taco seasoning. Mix all ingredients together in a salad bowl. Top with Fritos. Serve with dressing, salsa or whatever!


Earth Day

Well, I didn't end up riding my bike to work. It was cold! And foggy! And a little rainy! I'll just own up to it - I'm a wimp and I don't really love our planet.

BUT, I did something little today by buying an insulated mug to use when I go to the Starbucks in my building.

AND, I've become inspired by a story by Mark Bittman on NPR. He talked about being a VB6 (vegan before 6:00 p.m.). Basically, he's encouraging people to eat like a vegan until dinnertime - focusing on fruits, vegetables, beans and whole greans. And then, enjoying a nice dinner. This cuts down on meat eaten, and therefore my carbon footprint. And, as you can guess, it's healthy.

In the article, Bittman says:
The U.S. produces 10 billion animals a year just for food, animals that contribute one-fifth of all greenhouse gases and clog our arteries. Plus, we pay more for the food that's bad for us than we do for the vegetables, fruits and grains that are good for us.

I'm on a sugar fast this week because I ate an obscene amount of sweets over the last week. (Hey, it was my birthday!) And I'm already feeling better. I think I might try to go pretty much vegan before dinner for a week or two and see how I feel.

Mark Bittman, of course, has a whole book about this and you can sign up to take the challenge to eat less meat and receive his email newsletter.

After talking about reducing meat consumption, I just felt the need to include this cute cow picture from the Pioneer Woman Blog.


How did I miss this?

Plush Lima Bean Rattle, originally uploaded by Yummy Pancake.

Yesterday was National Lima Bean Day! I love lima beans! I'll have to make some this weekend in honor of the day.

Eating as little as a half cup of these raw can be dangerous. They contain a compound that is an offshoot of cyanide, and toxic when uncooked.

Lima beans' origins are in South and Central America.

Lima beans were exported to the rest of the Americas and Europe with boxes labeled "Lima - Peru" as their place of origin. This is how the beans got their name.

Here's a
recipe from Orangette for lima beans

Oh, and tomorrow is Earth Day. I guess I should ride my bike to work? There are a bunch of clean-ups in Seattle you can participate in through Earth Corps. I'll be out at Magnuson Park at Saturday.


Book Lust


Trust me, I love books. But what happened this weekend at the Seattle Public Library Book Sale was closer to lust. I didn't make decisions based on logic, long term consequences or the ability to commit to a limited number of books. No, I got caught up in the heat of the moment, grabbing at books that had long been logged away as potential reading. And why not? Books are only ONE DOLLAR. And don't they look pretty all piled up?

The book sale is a lot of fun, and it benefits the public libraries here. It takes place in an old air force hangar. I couldn't even tell you how many books are in there. It's pretty crowded (and I was next to a couple people with the most incredible BO), so you have to be patient and allow plenty of time to move through the rows slowly. But the volunteers were wonderful, and an elderly man that helped me check out said he'd read most of the books I was buying! (Helpful hint: If you have books you're trying to get rid of, you can drop them off at any library branch and they'll use them for the book sale! Handy!)

So, I walked away with a backpack full of 19 books. I did have to bike home with all these, so I paid for my shopping spree in another way. Well, I guess I better stop blogging and start reading.

The Friends of the Seattle Public Libary Book Sale continues through 4 p.m. today at Magnuson Park, and takes place twice a year.


Windowsill Flowers


Birthday tulips to brighten up this rainy day.

Garden starters

Plus, this super cool starter pot my mom gave me for my birthday. It's from the WSU horticulture program, and includes: cilantro, hot jalapeno peppers, long red slim cayenne peppers, northstar peppers, ancho magnifico peppers, gold nugget tomatoes, supersweet 100 tomatoes and cougar red tomatoes (these are only available through WSU's program). I hope I can keep them all alive! I need to get a couple more pots and some potting soil this weekend. I'm planning to plant the cilantro, but I'll wait a little while on the tomatoes and peppers.


This is why I love sports! Go Mariners!

I was at Safeco last night to see Griffey hit his 400th home run as a Mariner. Everyone went crazy! It was so exciting. Plus, Ichiro hit a grand slam.

It's games like these that remind everyone why we're loyal fans and why we pay money to sit out in the cold and watch our teams. I'm hoping for more wins and more exciting games this season!

You can read about the game at the Seattle Times: http://tinyurl.com/c3v2ar

P.S. Don't you just love Griffey?:

As he crossed the plate to a huge ovation, Griffey pointed toward his family in a suite, and when the crowd continued to roar, came out of the dugout for a curtain call. But not before planting a kiss on his embarrassed 15-year-old son, Trey, who informed him, "Dad, we have to talk."

Added Griffey: "It's a lot of fun when you win. To be able to go out there and perform and have fun and win, there's nothing better. ... We've been able to do some little things to win games, and we've done some big things, too."


Spring . . . in the Northwest

Snowshoeing in April

Snowshoeing in April

What does spring mean in the Northwest? Well, I guess it means I can fly a kite in the sun one weekend, and then go snowshoeing the next. Flowers are blooming, but we're still getting a lot of rain and the temperatures are all over the place. I'm ready for some sun! Some warmth!

After snowshoeing, we headed back to rainy Seattle for a Sounders game and Easter festivities.

We were able to get down on the field and watch the players warm up, which was super cool. The game was sold out, the crowd was electric and I had a blast watching them play. I'm definitely planning to head to more games this year.

Then, we made quiche and cut out sugar cookies for an Easter brunch. I'm hesitant to post my family's sugar cookie recipe. (Not that many people read this blog anyway :) ) It's from a woman in Iowa that my mom knew growing up. Her name was Cleoma and she was somewhat of a master baker. The cookies are called Cleoma's Blue Ribbon Butter Cookies, and I'll bet you money they're called that because they won the blue ribbon at the fair. It's kind of a family recipe.

Excellent rolling skills

Easter cookies

Oh well, it's my birthday, so I'm sending out the gift of a sugar cookie recipe (to the few people who read this)!

Blue Ribbon Butter Cookies
From: Cleoma Smith, Finchford, Iowa

1 c butter
3/4 c sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
3 c flour
1/2 t baking powder

Cream butter and sugar. Add all other ingredients. (I add 2 cups of flour, then add the last cup as I roll out the dough.) Mix well with electric mixer. Chill in refrigerator. Roll thin (very important!). Cut in desired shapes. Bake 5 minutes at 400 degrees. Watch carefully.


Pineapple Upside Down Cake

I have a weakness for kitschy, retro food. Especially when it tastes good (and, it usually tastes good because it involves a lot of fat and sugar). This includes Pineapple Upside Down Cake. I received a special PUDC pan one year from a friend, and then about a year later I inherited my Iowa grandmother's 1956 Betty Crocker Cookbook. A perfect match! I've used the recipe from her cookbook a few times, and it's always turned out well. Plus it's so pretty and colorful. It's fun to arrange all the pineapple, pecans and cherries at the bottom of the pan. And, how can you not like the way the finished product looks?

I brought it to a get together this weekend and everyone gobbled it up! I'll have to look for an excuse to make it again.

My grandmother's cookbook

She signed her name - Lila Messerly

Here's the recipe!

Can't forget the special pan

Pineapple upside down cake
The finished product

The Betty Crocker Cookbook has some AMAZING cakes in it. I kind of want to try the Baked Alaska. Nobody makes cakes like that anymore. I'm bringing it back! Down with cupcakes! Up with incredibly complicated, ornate cakes!





Don't you think daffodils are the friendliest flower?

It was sunny in Seattle, and everyone came out to play. I took a walk, visited the farmers market, rode my bike, threw a football and flew a kite! Whew!

Flying a kite on the beach at Golden Gardens


Ballard Farmers Market

Pink blooms on my walk down to Ballard. It's funny, I haven't taken this walk since our big snow dump. And, here I was again, walking along and taking pictures, enjoying the weather. It was like deja vu, but in opposite world.

I've made a big decision for myself this spring and summer . . . I am not going to train for anything! This is a big deal for me. Every year I've trained for something - half-marathon, triathlon, etc. But, I'm really putting a lot of focus and energy on getting healthy, creating a good balance in my body and healing old injuries. Every year, when I really get into my training, I end up throwing myself off balance by putting too much emphasis on training, and not enough on all the other activities that keep me healthy (weight lifting, yoga, cross-training, etc.). Plus, I've really been enjoying lately the freedom to do whatever activity I want - walk one day, kayak the next, snowshoe the next - rather than being tied to my training schedule.

Knowing me, I'll still probably wind up doing an open water swim and a 5k (I hope! I'm building up my running more and more each week!). But, I'm not locking myself into any big races.

Breathe in. Breathe out. I can do this. I can go a whole year without training for something. I'm addicted to this stuff!



Last week, I was sitting in church distracted and stressed by all the things I needed to get done that week - exercise, clean, work on the benefit concert I'm planning, get projects done at work, call friends. Poor me! My life is so busy and stressful!

I was watching people file up to take communion. One man in particular stood up and slowly made his way to the front of the church, and up the stairs. He wasn't very old, but he walked with a cane and seemed weak. You could tell his health isn't great. I realized he's the partner of a member of the church - someone we've all been praying for over the last few months.

You couldn't help but be struck by his smile and his slow determination to make it to the communion rail, one step at a time. He had an aura around him - happy to be in church with the person he loves, singing and celebrating for at least that one day.

It brought me to tears, and I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude. Here I am - healthy, young, loved by my family and friends - and I'm missing it all. This man showed me that I need to step back realize what a blessing I have in today, in all the good things that surround me and the opportunity in front of me.

Thank you. Thank you to this man for teaching me how to be grateful and embrace joy, in good times and in struggle. What a wonderful lesson to keep in mind during Holy Week as we move toward Easter.

P.S. I have a bunch more blog posts lined up. I hope to have them up soon!