Sunday, March 9, 2008

No Menu Monday, A Birthday, and a Cookbook of the Week

Our red plum trees are in full bloom this week!

It's nearly here. The big one. It's a milestone birthday for yours truly! Yes. I will be the dreaded 3-0.

The funny thing is I'm actually not dreading it at all. I'm 30 years old and I've earned every gray that is quietly sneaking into my auburn-brown hair (okay...maybe I didn't "earn" all of them!), I have a solid faith and I know who I really am, I am married to the most wonderful man on this earth, we have a home of our own, 4 cats who love us, an incredible family, devoted and loving friends, we are happy and blessed and I am glad to be here! I think "30" is not an end, but a new beginning!

That being said, this week will not have a standard menu. We'll be off work near the end of the week to celebrate my birthday and to have some rare time together at home. We'll probably have sandwiches, a breakfast night, spaghetti, and I have given Michael specific instructions to make me a gluten free chocolate cake (and since the poor guy really doesn't enjoy cooking, I handed him a bag of Pamela's Ultimate Fudge Brownie Mix.... it has a recipe for cake on the side. Hopefully he won't chicken out on me!)


This week's cookbook is another oldie but goodie! When I was little I remember watching Jeff Smith's "The Frugal Gourmet" on PBS with my dad. It was in the years before the Food Network and the availability of cooking shows around the clock on satellite television. We always looked forward to watching the show and hearing Jeff's antics on which cuisine he was preparing for his viewers that week.

Jeff Smith, was not only a retired Methodist minister, but he was an early "healthy living" pioneer, focusing on fresh, healthy meals made with "real" ingredients and whole grains. The Frugal Gourmet also knew the value of a dollar and explained how to make meals on a budget. He would also dedicate several weeks of shows to favorite foods of a specific country. He loved international cuisine and one was of the first American "celebrity chefs" to focus on global foods. He would travel and spent time in local farmer's markets of Italy or France, buying farm fresh produce and cheeses. He loved local wines and vineyards. He was a great chef and I love his cookbooks. My well loved, dog eared copy of "The Frugal Gourmet" (c. 1984) has tons of fabulous recipes and great cooking techniques. Many of these recipes are naturally gluten free. You will also love reading Jeff's informative and funny comments on each recipe! This is an incredibly fun cookbook to read!

I'll share this recipe with you today! I have not made it yet, but I love lamb! If you make this, please share with me how it turned out!

Lamb and Artichoke Stew -- A Greek Recipe
(pg. 200, The Frugal Gourmet c. 1984, ISBN 0-345-33523-6)

"I have just this minute realized that writing cookbooks is much harder for me than I would have ever imagined. It is hard not because I have to explain myself, but because I have to think about these recipes, and it is not even close to lunchtime. This lamb and artichoke stew from Greece cause me particular pain. You must make this! You must! -- Jeff Smith"

4 Tbsp. butter
2 pounds boneless lamb, cubed
3 yellow onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
Salt/Pepper, to taste
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
2 (14 oz.) cans artichokes in brine, drained
1/2 tsp. dried dill weed
3 Tbsp. lemon juice


In a very large frying pan met the butter. Add the lamb and saute until lightly browned. Remove the meat. Saute the yellow onions along with the garlic and parsley. Place the meat, onions, garlic, and parsley in a heavy kettle, and add salt, pepper, and the tomato paste, and white wine. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours or until the lamb is tender. Add artichokes, dill weed, and lemon juice. Simmer until all is tender about 1 1/2 hours.

Serve over pilaf. Along with the stew over the pilaf serve a nice fruit tray and a large salad. I would start the meal with a pate or terrine.

Have a terrific week!

I'll be posting a lovely banana nut bread recipe in a few days!!

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  1. I met Jeff Smith (and his sous chef, Craig) once and got my books signed. He was a lovely man. I hate all the horrible things that happened to him late in life (and I wish him RIP).

    Happy birthday, Carrie, with much love! OH! I made the bread this weekend. In the bread machine, even. Turned out nice. I think it's a keeper.
    love ya girl!

  2. OH my! I am jealous Ging!!! I can't believe you got to meet him! YES, I remember sous chef Craig!! lol I agree with you, it was horrible what happened to him! I hope he RIP's too!!

    Thank you very much for the wonderful birthday wishes! I really appreciate it Ging!

    I'm also glad you enjoyed the bread!! Have a wonderful day!


  3. Hi, Carrie! That's my first name too( Reese is a nickname), so when I saw your link, I had to visit!

    Happy Birthday. I'm 32 now and, frankly, I like my 30's MUCH better than I did my 20's. Enjoy your special day!


  4. Happy birthday, Carrie! I hear the 30s are generally much grander than the 20s for women.

  5. Reese - I LOVE your nickname girl! That's one of my favorite names actually! Thank you so much for commenting and wishing me a happy birthday! I agree with you! I think my 30's will be wonderful! Thanks again!!

    Sally - Thank you!!! I'm just hoping I can follow a similar health regime to yours and be 50 pounds lighter by the time I'm 31!! Thank you very much for your well wishes!!

  6. Welcome to your 30s! I agree that they are better than the 20s. (I'm 33.)

    That recipe looks wonderful!


  7. Karen -- Thank you!! My favorite English teacher in high school told me once, "Just wait until you are 35! You will LOVE it! It's the best time ever!" I believe her!!

  8. Man, If I had known you were turning thirty I would have come up with some jokes to make fun of you! I still can't believe you are so much older than me. Alright teasing over... I wish you a blessed year! I can imagine that the 30s are much more confident than the 20s. Maybe a bit more calm too since you have been established for awhile. And I agree, a good marriage is such a blessing. xoxo Nat

  9. LOL NATALIE!! Just RUB it in woman! haha!! You are funny! I know... You still seem older than me to me too!! haha! I'm just so darn young at heart I guess! lol!!

  10. Happy Birthday ~ I remember when I turned 30 I really wanted to have a baby. My first daughter was born 10 months later! Now 12 years later I am crazy busy with 3 kids and one Golden Retriever!

    I enjoy reading your blog!

  11. Hi Carrie!

    Happy Birthday! 30 has been so long ago for me I've forgotten what it was like - just wait until you turn 40!

    Hope you have a great birthday week!


  12. I loved to watch him too! When I read that quote by him, I could hear his voice! Hope you have a wonderful birthday and your cake gets made okay!

  13. Gluten Free Mom -- THANK YOU! You have no idea how many people are waiting for us to pop a few kids out! ;-P But you are right, 30 does seem to be the age of the "clock ticking!"

    Thomas -- Thanks! It's amazing how quickly these birthdays sneak up on us! I hope 40 stays away for a while! Haha!

    Gluti Girl -- Jeff Smith did have a very distinct voice! That was one of those fun things about watching the show!! If you go to You Tube, and search for The Frugal Gourmet, one video of him with David Letterman appears, it's pretty funny!! Thank you for the well wishes! I think Michael is going to make the cake! (finger's crossed!!)

    Cassandra -- Thanks so much girl! I hope things are going well with you!!

  14. Happy 30th! I've got a whole decade on you (well, come this July is my big 4-0!). Celebrate the entire year! It's a big milestone and you deserve to have a wonderful year!

  15. GF STEVE -- I LOVE the way you think my dear friend!!! The party is on! lol!! ;-) thank you for your well wishes!! have a great week!

  16. Happy birthday Carrie!

    Hope you had a lovely time and that Michael made that cake :-)

    Gotta say - my 30s are definitely an improvement on my 20s so far. But I'm only 31, so who knows!