Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!
Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Now This is Someone I Could Be Friends With!

Every month, my office sends out a department newsletter over email. There are several sections such as anniversaries, birthdays, get-to-know new employers, co-worker trivia, and quotes.

I began reading the co-worker trivia section to try and figure out who it was. The first sentence was "the first thing I notice about people is their confidence." Wow, I thought, I do that too! I always am drawn to other confident people! Next, the person "preferred cats over dogs, and summer over winter." Hmmm, I thought, me too. I have two cats and I am SO OVER this winter!

After that, the person had written that they liked Asian food, the color royal blue, movies with happy endings, and mint chocolate chip ice cream. You know, I said to myself, I could easily be friends with this person! I have so much in common with them. Now I also like the color grey and coffee ice cream but royal blue and mint chocolate chip ice cream are ultimately at the top of my list!

So I checked at the bottom of the newsletter to see which coworker it was that I had so much in common with. Yep ... it was me.  Apparently, I filled out an office survey over a year ago to be included in the newsletter and forgot about it. I'm such a dork.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Favorite Kitchen Tools

"Voile" Pasta Measurer by Alessi
Throughout the years, I have acquired several favorite cooking tools as gifts or through my own discoveries. I am always on the lookout for cool kitchen gadgets. Mom's favorite kitchen tool was the wooden spoon. When we stepped out of line, she would grab it and threaten to paddle us with it. She was kidding/half serious most of the time but I think I remember once or twice when I got the spoon to my butt for being a bad kid. Mom swore by wooden kitchen tools and to this day, I have plenty in my kitchen as well.

The first favorite kitchen tool is the "Voile" Alessi Pasta Measurer. Alessi is an incredible Italian design company. Check out more of their wares at www.alessi.com. It was a gift from my father and stepmom Martha. Each circle in the pasta measurer is for a different amount of pasta. It was truly a perfect gift from the two of them as it encompassed Martha's passion for the kitchen and cooking, and Dad's passion for design and art.

the Fiskie
My next favorite is my silicone fork whisk by Norpro, also known as the Fiskie! I bought this item at a home store on the main drag in Palm Springs about 3 years ago while on vacation with my brother and his family. When I make scrambled eggs on the weekend, I prefer whisking with a fork but always hated and cringed at the sound it would make against a metal mixing bowl. Enter the Fiskie. Now I whisk with this silicone red fork and don't shutter with each screeching pass around the mixing bowl! It can be found on Amazon.com.

Joie Kitchen Scraper
I picked up this Joie Scrape and Clean Kitchen Scraper while away on holiday up at World's End State Park, in Forksville, PA. I always stop at Katie's Country Store in Muncy Valley, PA. You can pick up gourmet foods, candies, Christmas ornaments year round, kitchen wares, and all sorts of other cool household and entertaining items. I  found the scraper on my most recent trip over Thanksgiving. I had been looking for something "solid" to scrape and clean ceramic, glass top and nonstick pans without scratching them. This tool works wonders and you can find it online on Amazon.com. If you are in the Worlds End area, make sure you stop by the store that I got it from as Katie's Country Store is definitely a fun stop . Here is her website: http://katiesstore.com/ .

Pepper Corers
Every holiday season, John and I make a trip down to South Philly and stock up on antipasti, seafood, meats, cheeses, pasta, and spices in the Italian Market. A regular stop is at the famed restaurant store, Fante's Kitchen Shop.  One year, I picked up these great pepper corers by Progressive International. The small one is for jalapeno or habanero peppers and the large one which is used for bell peppers of every color. For storage, the small one fits neatly into the larger one.

Ground Meat Chopper
I found the Betty Crocker Hamburger Helper ground meat chopper at Walmart this past Christmas and just had to have it. I got one for my sister as well. It works great and takes the place of trying to awkwardly chop up the cooking meat with a bending spatula. I would recommend spraying the plastic blades with a nonstick spray before using it to prevent the meat from sticking to the sides while cooking.

Lilypad Pot Lids
These lilypad silicone pot lids were bought one January when I was in Philly  I was staying across the street at the Radisson Blue Warwick Hotel and wandered across the street to the longtime Rittenhouse Square staple, Kitchen Kapers where I found them beckoning for me to buy buy BUY! They are just so cool! They are made by the kitchen wares designer Charles Viancin and form a tight seal on cooking pots. Check out his website at http://www.charlesviancin.com/index.php/us/ .  There is a great selection of these covers in other shapes and size. You can purchase the lids as a sunflower, hibiscus flower, pumpkin, snowflake, cherry blossom, or water droplet. The website also has a selection of other unique kitchen items. You can purchase the lids from Kitchen Kapers online at their website: http://www.kitchenkapers.com/ .

Onion Slicer
This is another great gift from Dad and Martha from Williams-Sonoma. It is a Zwiebelhalter, or an onion slicer, by the German company Kuchenprofi. This spiked kitchen tool has saved my fingers many a time while slicing onions, lemons, limes, and bagels of all types. You can find it here online at kuchenprofiusa.com and of course, Amazon.com. I have seen it many other places online as well.
Garlic Peeler

I also love my silicone garlic peeler. You can find these at Walmart, Target, or any other major retail store. You just pop in the garlic clove and roll it. Out comes a clean garlic clove with the skin removed! It saves so much time and makes peeling a garlic clove SO EASY!

Lastly, my honorable mention goes to my trusty wine glass because you might as well drink and enjoy yourself while cooking. (At least that's me!) Just don't drink too much or the meal won't get done.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Mom's Quick Marinara

The Ingredients!
Can a Jewish Mother make a good, possibly great quick marinara? You bet she can!

Now in the 70s and 80s, my Mom was more of a jarred tomato sauce type of gal. There wasn't too many option available at the local Pathmark supermarket. She did mix it up though, adding her own onions, garlic, peppers, and spices. She often browned ground beef and added it for meat sauce. That's what I grew up with and was always proud to call it my Mom's sauce.

But later, I was so happy to discover this recipe of hers while going through her recipe box. Now if you don't have an entire afternoon to boil your own tomatoes, peel them down, separate the seeds and water, and then blend them, this is a great quick marinara you can make within an hour. It comes out so much better than your average jarred sauce. It tastes fresher and you have the satisfaction of knowing that YOU made it and it's healthier for you too.  You can thank my Mom.


MOM's QUICK MARINARA by Abby Deeds


Make 4 cups
Mom's Quick Marinara in my antique Ironstone gravy boat.
1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
1-2 Tbsp of tomato paste (for a thicker sauce)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove minced garlic (Um, I like MORE.)
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
pepper to taste


1. Heat olive oil in medium sized saucepan.
2. Stir in chopped onion, saute for 8 minutes, stirring often
3. Stir in garlic, saute for 30-45 seconds (Did I say I like waaay more garlic?)
4. Stir in remaining ingredients, stir occasionally
(My hint: You can always add browned drained ground beef or turkey and or sauteed veggies!)
5. Check in 10 minutes, stir often
6. Salt/pepper to taste. Add more sugar if needed to cut down on acidity
7. For some heat, you can add 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, stir well.