Saturday, February 14, 2009

How Do I Love Thee?

The two of us don't really go over board with gifts for Valentine's Day, but usually do give each other something even if it is just a card. Normally when Randy does give me a gift it's something garden related and this year was no different. Even though he was battered and bruised from his ladder tumble he took the time to drive around town buying materials and to create two lattice trellises for me and my clematises that have outgrown their storebought fan shaped trellises. He got up before me this morning so had time to pull them out of their hiding place in the shed. They were the first things I saw (through the back door) as I came down the hall. I am usually so unobservant..but I couldn't miss them! Here is one of them sitting in the sad looking strawberry patch.

He also had a beautiful card with old fashioned roses on them plus a silly but sweet velvet rose that plays Fur Elise. I am a little more playful with my gifts and had seen this Shih Tzu puppy in a the gift shop at work a while back and couldn't leave the little guy in the store. Jigs, however, has plans to snap his neck..... Don't worry about the little guy or Jigsy's possible future life of crime. He's going on a shelf ~ the puppy, not Jigs! (Please excuse the bare naked pillow..the linens were in the laundry!)

I thought I would start the day with a few of nature's hearts. I got these beautiful strawberries on sale this week. The plate is part of a set which I think were for bridge parties..card themed. I bought them at a garage sale about 15 years ago. The bread is one based on a recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Zoe Francois and Jeff Hertzberg. I just adore this book. I have dough waiting in the fridge..this one and the Deli Rye.

My Version of
Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread Inspired by Chris Kimball

3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 T yeast (2 packets)
1 T plus t tsp salt
1/4 cup less one T honey
1 T molasses
1/4 cup butter melted
1/4 cup rye flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup seven grain cereal
2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
Neutral oil for greasing pan

1. Mix yeast, salt, honey, molasses and butter in water in a 5 qt bowl or lidded (not airtight) food container. Mix in remaining dry ingredients without kneading, using a spoon, food processor or heavy duty mixer (with dough hook). You may need to use hands to incorporate the last bit of flour. Cover and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses (approx 2 hrs). The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise buts it's easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded but not airtight container and use over the next 5 days. On baking day lightly grease a non-stick loaf pan. Dust surface of refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1 1/2 pound piece (cantaloupe sized). Dust with more flour and shape into ball by stretching and rotating. Form oval and put in prepared pan. Allow to rest for 1 hr and 40 minutes (or 40 mins if using unrefrigerated dough). 20 minutes before baking time preheat oven to 400°F with an empty broiler pan on any shelf that won't interfere with rising. Place loaf on rack near center of oven. Pour 1 cup of hot water in broiler pan & quickly close oven. Bake 50 mins or until deeply browned or firm. Allow to cool (if you can) before slicing.

In retrospect I probably shouldn't have eaten lunch, but I was hungry once noon rolled around. I pulled some frozen shrimp from the freezer and sauteed up this Asian inspired dish.

Spicy Black Bean Garlic Shrimp

8 oz frozen shrimp
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 T Spicy Garlic Black Bean sauce
1 tsp minced garlic
A sprinkle of Chipotle chili powder
A sprinkle of smoked paprika
A sprinkle of Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
1 T Mai Ploy Sweet Chili sauce
1 T brown sugar
1 1/2 T rice vinegar
1 sm pinch kosher salt
left over rice

Heat butter and olive oil at med-high heat in a cast iron skillet. Add frozen shrimp. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side until cooked through but not over cooked. In the meantime mix the remaining ingredients to make a sauce. Add to skillet and cook for a couple more minutes or until shrimp are done. Flip shrimp a couple of times to make sure they get well coated. Serve over a bed of rice. Sprinkle with green onions.

Here's my pretty new valentines plate unfilled. It was a half price find at Safeway :-)

I also bought this cute melamine plate on sale at the same place. I had to steal my friend Marsha's idea. Check out her blog, Marsha's Garden. It's amazing!

I thought this one fit all of online friends,

And this is what you make me do

We just got back from eating out at a relatively new restaurant in the neighborhood, The Flying Tomato. It's actually been here for over a year and I don't know why we haven't gone before. Although it's in a new strip mall, it's a cute little place that has a bistro atmosphere and decorated with lots of tomato art! We each had salads..Randy a Caesear and me the Flying Blue. For entrees, I had the Tuscan Chicken which was okay, but Randy had the Lasagna Lasagna which was AWESOME and enormous. Plenty more on the menu I want to try, so I wont be discouraged by my so-so choice. Their bread was great and served with a tomato flavored butter. I had a raspberry lemon drop too! No room for dessert. Next time we will probably share the Lasagna and I will try a dessert. I would have taken a pic or two because the decor was cute, but didn't want to embarrass my date. I did snap this one when we were paying the tab...the tables have paper over red checked cloth. Crayons in a tomato paste can on the table.


dishesdone said...

Love the last picture :) Great Valentine's post, Suzy! Sounds like a great celebration!

I love that restaurant's menu! Can you also try that steak one time and let me know how it is? LOL! Just kidding, so many great things on that menu! Nice plates! The shrimps look great!

Jayne said...

Awww, the last picture is so SWEET! Love the whole post Suzy! A great Valentine's Day. So thoughtful of Randy to do the trellises. I love all your dishes and good looking food. This post is so full of love!

Kathleen said...

What a great sitting in your kitchen and having a conversation!
Your plates are so cute, and the shrimp look good!
Glad you had a sweet date!
Cute, cute!!
And I love your gift, and that dh got up early and set it up...adorable..
No cards, no flowers here, but he made dinner..and that's good enough for me!

Cynthia said...

Suzy, What a LOVEly post!

Randy ... what a sweetheart and so thoughtful to get materials and make your new trellises.

Your plates are very festive and your shrimp so delicious, and your dinner out sounds delightful.

But, I love the picture of Jigs with the stuffed Shih Tzu puppy ... that's adorable. Did Jigs get a gift for Valentine's Day?

Foley said...

You definitely have a keeper in Randy!! The trellis' I'm sure will be put to good use.

The shrimp looks great..Jiggs, needless to say is so precious!

Love the last photo too - it says it All!!

Marsha said...

How very romantic to write Suzy loves Randy on the table :-) I agree with Barb, you definitely have a "keeper" in Randy. I look forward to seeing the beautiful trellis he will create for you. The shrimp looks good and the Flying tomato sounds like a wonderfl place. Those conversation hearts sure have changed haven't they? I didn't find LOL but "email me" & "text me ;-) Thanks for the compliment on my blog.

Mari at Once Upon a Plate said...

So Sweet~ From beginning to end. Sounds like the perfect celebration. It's gotta be true love. :)

Suzy, the shot of Jiggs and Jiggs Jr. just cracked me up.

Suzy said...

Thanks everybody. Carol..I WILL try that steak one day for you! I really like the restaurant too..nice atmosphere and staff. Neat menu too.

Thanks Jayne :-)

Kathleen..what a nice thing to say. Come on over and visit anytime! present for Jigs. But he did get a little doggie bag from the restaurant! Plus he got to play with Randy's gift ..for a minute or two :-)

Barb..Randy read your comment (he's enjoying this blog too!) and said, I'm a says so on your blog so you gotta be nice to me!

Marsha..actually that is the finished product. He couldn't find white lattice so had to buy plain and paint. Then he attached posts to the back of it. He will attached it to the house with some brackets.

Mary, thanks for stopping by! Jigs Jr. nearly created a riot lol.

tales from an O.C. cottage said...

What a perfect gift!!!!

M ^..^

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