Monday, April 30, 2012

Scraps and Snippets ~ No-Cheese, Cheesy Scallped Veggies, A Review AND A GIVEAWAY

Some days my mailbox feels like Christmas. 

I was given the opportunity to try out one of OXO's Healthy Eating Tools. Not only did they gift me with one sweet Hand Held Mandoline Slicer to try out...they sent me another to send to one of my readers. These gifts arrived in my mail last week...Merry Christmas to me and to one of you.

Hmmm. Would you like Christmas to come early to you? Best keep reading, or jump to the bottom of the post for instructions.

The Hand Held Mandoline Slicer is a pretty sweet tool. 

For starters. It's simple. And it's adjustable. Simply slide the little lever and tell it the thickness you want. I got some sweet thin slices out of this bad boy. It conquered the potatoes and onions in record time. The mushrooms didn't slice as easy, but they are kind of finicky, so I wasn't too surprised. The slicer is a good size for hand and bowls. I also found the finger protector (and guest protector, ha, ha) easy to use. Basically, it was really easy to use for someone who has been known to occasionally poke a hole in her dermis (sounds better than stab myself with a knife). Clean up was also a breeze. 

This is what I made with it. See the pretty veggie slices.

No-Cheese, Cheesy Scalloped Veggies

1 Cup soaked cashews (soak at least 30 minutes)
1 Cup cauliflower florets
2 Cups veggie broth
1 TBSP flour
3 TBSP nutritional yeast
1 TBSP tahini
2 Cloves garlic minced
1 and 1/2 TBSP lemon juice
1 tsp salt
5-6 medium potatoes thinly sliced
1 onion thinly sliced
7-8 mushrooms thinly sliced.
2 TBSP Earth Balance Spread

(Keep potatoes in salt water until you use them.)

Heat oven to 350. Grease 9 x 13 pan.

In a large pan, turn flame up high, add 1 TBSP Veg margarine (Earth Balance) to pan. Toss in potato slices and the onion. Don't turn until the potatoes and onions begin to caramelize. Then turn. Repeat until they begin to grow tender and both sides of the potatoes and onions are golden. Add the mushrooms when potatoes are beginning to cook. Adjust heat as needed. You don't want them to burn, you want them crusty though. Place onion/potato/mushroom mixture into the 9 x 13.

Drain cashew water. Add 1 TBSP Earth Balance to the large pan you used for the potatoes. Heat. Add cauliflower and garlic.  Add the flour, stir until all the veggies are coated. Then add Veggie broth, lemon juice, cashews, nutritional yeast, tahini and salt. Simmer/stir until mixture thickens.  

Cool. Run the mixture through a food processor. Then pour over potato mixture. Use it all.

Bake for 35 minutes at 350.

Okay. Here are the rules for the giveaway. 

Open to US residents.
Open from April 30, 2012 thru May 15, 2012 at 11:59 p.m. (Will be announced on the 17th)

Winner will be chosen at random.
Each activity counts as one entry. So each activity needs a separate comment. 

Like OXO on Facebook or Pinterest.
Follow My Vegan Recipe board on Pinterest
Tell me what you'd make with the OXO Hand Held Mandoline Slicer.
Tell a friend to visit Scrambled Dregs and comment, then come back and tell me his/her name. (One for each friend you send my way). 
Subscribe Scrambled Dregs via email or follow. (look left)
If you already follow me at Pinterest, via email or like OXO just leave a comment sharing that.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Potlucks and Possum ~

a clown suit for sale at a garage sale. very tempting....

Citizen's Police Academy - coming soon - keep tuned in. The topic was DUIs and drug doggies.

But while you're's some background noise.

AKA (also known as) Interesting happenings of late.

Back in the day people used to ask me what I'd made at a potluck. This was because they WANTED to eat it. Now. Since we've gone all weird and "healthy" or "hippie," I sometimes get that question with lit up eyes and eager runs for the dish. But. I also get it, mostly, because there are those who want to avoid what I've slaved over.

I won't lose sleep over this. Because, what we bring home, we'll eat. However, it does make me want to try harder to get my hippie stuff onto the plates and shoveled into the mouths of the sarcastic. Just sayin.

Yesterday I threatened to break the toe of my sarcastic child who sat on the couch with me. She harassed me, she deserved it. The only thing that saved her was quick response to hit Control Z when I deleted something while I was diving for her toe. The life she saved was her own.

Speaking of lives. In Iowa I see lots of wildlife on my way to and from work. Yesterday morning I truly saw an amazing sight. I'm assuming that you all know what a possum is...and that they have a sweet trick.  If not, here's some possum facts for you.

Anyhoo. I saw an Oscar award winning performance by a possum bright and early, a little too bright and early for a nocturnal animal. But this little bugger was professional and he had his trick down. He didn't twitch, even as cars drove past him. He just laid there, obviously having taken some acting classes. He even had props. Not sure how he got those guts arranged so artfully. Funny thing, he was still working on it on my way home from work. Playing dead. Who'd have thought that would be so fascinating.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Scraps and Snippets ~ Vegan Yumza ~ Iowa Style

Vegan Yumza...Iowa Style

We have a restaurant chain in the midwest called Runza. Born in Nebraska these special sandwiches are kind of like calzones, but smaller and breadier, and full of ground beef, cabbage and spices. They've expanded over the years and have done special versions like an Italian, and the swiss and mushroom version.

But. Since we don't eat there anymore due to the whole meat thing, and since we had a refrigerator with some spoonfuls of this and that, and since I recently tasted a savory Vegan kolache, I put my creative food wrangling cap on and came up with this. I have all sorts of ideas dancing around in my head. An Italian one for sure, my hamburger crumbles recipe and cabbage etc. etc. I'm also thinking these little "meaty" packets will freeze for quick dinners down the road. I think I'm onto something. Expect more.

This one is a basic pot pie feel. It tasted pretty darn good.
(Serves 4 people)


    3 teaspoons yeast
    1 cup warm water (110-115 f)
    1 teaspoon sugar
    1TBSP olive oil
    1 TBSP ground flax seed
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 cups flour + additional to knead into dough as needed. (I used mix of unbleached white and whole wheat pastry flour)


Put yeast in bowl and cover with 1/4 of the cup of water. Stir and add sugar. Let sit for a few minutes til it foams. Add oil, salt, remaining water, flax and the two cups of flour. Stir until mixed well. It will form a soft ball. Add another 1/4 of flour or so, knead that in (in the bowl works just fine). Repeat that step two or three more times until the dough doesn't stick to you and it forms a nice ball. Knead it a minute or so. Let sit in a warm spot for 1/2 hour or 45 minutes, it will double in size. Preheat oven to 425. When ready form into four equal sized sections. Rectanglish...I used my hands. The dough is pretty easy to work with. And you can see my rectangles are not quite...ya know.

While the dough is rising, grease a pan, and prepare the filling.

2 medium or 3 small potatoes diced
1/2 onion diced
3 smallish carrots thinly sliced or diced
3 celery stalks thinly sliced or diced
1 cup vegetable broth or 1 cup water and 1 tsp vegetable boullion
1 TBSP Earth Balance
1/2 to 1 cup of leftover bits of whatever you need to use up in the fridge like lentils, seitan, cauliflower other veggies
1 tsp salt if using salt free broth.
pepper to taste.

Melt Earth Balance in a pan, toss in onion and celery and saute til tender and turning translucent. Toss in the rest of the veggies and potatoes and cook until they begin to brown. Add broth and salt if using. Simmer until the mixture thickens and potatoes and carrots soften.

Place 1/4 of this mixture on each rectangle. I placed the mixture in the middle of the left side of the dough and then folded the right over the left and pinched it closed. Repeat with the other 3 pieces of dough and the filling. Lay the packets in the baking dish 9 x 13 works. Slit each 2 or 3 times on top of the packet. Bake at 425 for 23 minutes.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Veggie House

& and Rob built a little greenhouse for plant starts and etc.  They got the finishing touches on it last night and loaded it with our plant babies. We will be putting things in the ground in about two weeks. I harvested a whole lot of weeds in our garden that are LOVING this unusually warm April weather. It is supposed to hit 90 again today.

Not the best pictures of the green house. But it was pre-sun and I was excited.

Four screen shelves for drainage and sun. A top and front that open for easy access. 

And look at the babies. We have teeny lettuces from seeds, baby tomato plants (Heirloom, from seeds saved from the best tomatoes from our CSA last year.) There was a micro Cilantro harvest last night and we will have sage and basil.

Now that we know what's taking off from our plantings a few weeks ago, we'll start some more and pop them in our new plant incubator. And then use it through the fall for herbs and lettuces.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Awkvard Ramblings


Is one of my favorite words. It's overused for sure, but it's one that I generally toss out in an, uh, well, uh, awkvard situation. Then I laugh. You might notice that my awkvard is slightly different than the average person's though. We once taught this all-purpose-ice-breaker word to a visiting German. He did a great job using it, but added his own spice. Try it. 

On a side note, we were forced to teach him this word because, well, he wanted to pick up some American style of hanging out and was working on social subtleties. We thought a rousing game of Bananagrams would be just the fun way to interact and help him work on his social "American" English. 
It was fun alright. He did great. However, he kept wanting to spell out anatomical terms. Liver, okay, foot, another socially and family friendly word. But Rob caught him spelling a certain anatomical word that was not appropriate for the younger eyes in the room. Rob explained that to him. It grew quiet. Someone said. "Awkward!" So that then became the word of the night. And has been beaten to death since then but is still good for a laugh in my world. 

So back to my current awkvard moment. Here's my situation... I preloaded a blog post to go up early Monday morning on Sunday night. Apparently my calendar skills are lacking. So instead of Monday, I clicked Tuesday. So now, on Monday night, when I should be posting a blog post for early Tuesday morning, I just can't  because Monday's is still sitting, blinking at me. 

This buys me a few hours, and clearly gives me something to blog about. In case you were wondering, I was going to have to be a bit random anyways. Here's why. Busy, long day. Seven hours at work, home for two to whip together a new recipe for dinner. Then back to work for two hours for a meeting, then back home, arriving just when the Bible study participants started pouring in. 

Now. Quiet. And bedtime. Yes!  So. Let me just post some pictures. Too tired to add the recipes right now, and I must add a few tweaks before I give them to you anyhoo. Here are some pictures of yummy things I've been working on the past few days. 

I'm going to set this to post on Tuesday afternoon. If for some reason you come by on Tuesday afternoon and don't see a post, well, you might guess correctly that I tripped over another of my skill sets and did a face plant. Awkvard.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Scraps and Snippets ~ Peanut Butter Mocha ~ Yum.

&'s coffee shop makes the best Peanut Butter Mocha. It's a frozen coffee drink that is beyond delicious -- if you happen to like peanut butter and chocolate. 

But. The coffee shop peanut butter contains high fructose corn syrup as does the chocolate syrup. But since & knows the "recipe" and has opportunity to think through making this a better choice we've been working on making it reproducible at home. 

She has discovered that flax seed and spinach don't even tweak the taste, and that chocolate syrup can be swapped out for Vegan chocolate flavored protein powder. Coconut, almond or flax milk work great, too. Almond butter would as well, but will change the flavor. 

Peanut Butter Mocha

4 ounces brewed or cold press coffee
6 ounces of vanilla or chocolate non-dairy milk
3 TBSP peanut butter
1 TBSP ground flax seed
2 or 3 TBSP chocolate syrup (or powdered chocolate Vegan protein powder)
1 Cup packed (= what you can grab with both hands) organic spinach leaves
1 to 1 1/2 Cup ice.

Combine all in a high speed blender. Whir. Add one cup to 1 and 1/2 cup ice. (Depending on how thick you want it.) Combine and pour into two or three cups/mugs.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Law Lessons ~ Murder, Mess and Crime Scene Investigations

What we learned at Citizen's Police Academy...well, two pages of notes later, writing as fast as I could, I say quite a bit.

I asked & and she said she learned that what you see on television is not necessarily true. And she's bummed. I think she's kidding. However, there is some truth in her statement.

We had the detective division and Crime scene investigation question and answer session last night.

In a word, fascinating. But, maybe not so fascinating that it can turn into a hit television series.

The detectives are called in when there is a reason that the uniform division can't clear up a case or situation. An obvious example would be a corpse and no clear reason to assume natural death, or the evidence of a violent death. The detective stated that when they are called in, they assume guilt and that a crime has been committed until evidence shows otherwise.

The majority of the detective's time is spent in interviewing and questioning. The detective spends a whole lot of time on this for some cases. Our local team of detectives is broken into divisions, and they each juggle twenty-five cases (give or take) a month, and each case may take a few to several months to dot all the i's and cross all the t's. Oh, and the average case may contain something alone the lines of 3000 pieces of paper. (Reports, findings, documentation.) He said when things get really crazy he'll have to ask return phone calls which case they are involved with. 

We went through the details of a solved murder case. From the two 9-1-1 calls, to the crime scene photographs, to some important clues, we saw the overview of the process the detectives went through. The lecturer was kind enough to remove the slides that showed the eviscerated gut of the victim. We all learned a very special lesson about Miranda laws, too. However, the killer had loose lips with more than just the arresting officer, and his confession was admissible in the court of law...since he'd told several people about his conquest, walked around in public with blood on his clothes, and a knife hanging out of his waistband.

The next topic of the evening was crime scene investigation. Once again, not real glamorous. The majority of her job is photographing, photographing, photographing. She told us that shows like CSI are entertaining. Really entertaining. But they often depict one person doing the job of ten different people. And shows like that help the public to expect miracles. Crime scene handling has more down and gritty leg work than miracles. And fingerprinting...well, it's great if they can get em and there are lots of variables and science involved in getting one. 

One of her more surprising comments was that she thought she could handle anything without getting rocked when she was going through her master's level courses. Iron gut, a fascination with science and detail, she thought she could be detached and professional. Even though she said she's never had a work related nightmare, she finds that she gets more bothered the more time she's exposed to the harshness of life and death.

Both the Ident-tech (evidence gatherer CSI person) and the detectives mentioned that one never gets used to the smell of a decomposing body. One classmate asked about the Vick's under the nose trick. One of the detectives said that Vick's opens up your sinuses letting more of the stench permeate and that he was told to get a hospital style face mask and put a drop of essential oil inside of it. But, he also said he'd not tried either. On a side note, all the slides of murder scenes showed some pretty pathetic housekeeping issues. One place had tires stacked in the living room. One of our classmates leaned over..."I think your odds of being murdered go way down if you clean your house." So let's all take that to heart.

As for me, I'm pretty sure I'll be content with what I saw tonight. I don't need to see it up close and personal. I'd probably toss some lunch at my first exposure to a bloody tube sock. I'm also pretty sure I wouldn't want to work in the evidence department.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Law Lessons - Tunneling and Dead Ends ~

A few more thoughts on my Citizen Police Academy time. 

There is so much information and most of it is fascinating. 

One day's coverage was not enough for last week's class. 

I'll have more facts and stories tonight. I believe we are going to pick the brains of CSI. (sorry for the really icky pun...but now that I've made it, I must share.)'s what else I picked up last week.... Can someone die of extreme shock, a broken heart, surges of adrenaline? I learned about a couple of infrequent but “they happen” scenarios via my Citizen’s Police Academy class. 

Our officers are given tools to help them do their jobs. One of those tools is reading people, situations, body language and other signs. Some examples of this training -- our police officers are required to get blasted with pepper spray so they can develop the ability to work through the pain. Often pepper spray, when aimed at a perpetrator, is going to blow right back into the officer’s face. They need to be able to deal with those sensations and not lose their heads. A police officer is very aware that if they lose their heads lives could be at stake. 

In their preparation they are are also trained to recognize things about themselves and others. Tunnel vision is something real and they are given skills to keep ahead of the mind altering results. In the midst of extreme noise, activity and uber sensory overload the mind will funnel information and block some out. One officer told of a moment of tunnel vision that ended up giving him nightmares. It was a dark night, a tense negation with an armed man. A cruiser shone a spotlight on the suspect's face and the suspect took it up a notch to horror level extremes. The policeman who told the story said that his mind literally closed off all sound and any peripheral vision and he was riveted to the visual spotlight in front of him. When the shot was fired, the officer saw the effects, heard nothing and didn’t know where the shot had come from. He even wondered if he’d shot the man, not understanding until several minutes later that he'd witnessed a suicide. 

Another bizarre condition is called excited delirium. This doesn’t affect the officers, other than complicate their lives. Middle aged men, who have an addiction to alcohol or drugs, who have a big beer belly and the perfect storm of stress, have been known to literally drop dead. When a police officer encounters a man who fits that profile, they are very aware of this type of possible sudden death. Imagine the paper work scenario involved in a death during an arrest. A piece of brain tissue has to be sent out to a specific lab to confirm this diagnosis. It’s real enough that they are schooled about the possibility bizarre as it sounds. 

Our police are also trained extensively on the use of handcuffs. Apparently this is extremely important. I'm so naive. Less so now. Kinda

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Recipe Tweak-a-thon

By jove, I think I've got it. 

My weekend conquer-the-recipe quest, fueled by Julia Child DVDs, and recipe contests is bearing fruit. 

I'm not going to lie. There was a delicious nugget of gold, FINALLY, at the end of the recipe rainbow. But I had to slog through a few fails before I found it. 

And the other two recipes... One...still a fail...but it was only attept two and the future tweaks are in mind and promising.

The third. Well. Four out of four of us liked it. So it's a keeper. I'm not going to share them quite yet. Gotta send them into the contest first. But. They're coming.

And. Somehow I've ended up finding or buying three more Vegan cook books. Yup. I'm crazed. 

The pictures are of the keeper recipes. Let's just say they are classics with a bit of a twist.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Scraps and Snippets ~ Asian Quinoa Lettuce Cup Filling or Quinoa Fried "Rice"

Asian Quinoa Lettuce Cup Filling or Quinoa "Fried Rice"

3/4 Cup Organic Quinoa
2 TBSP sesame oil
3 organic celery stalks chopped/diced
3 TBSP slivered almonds
2 TBSP rice vinegar
1 1/2 TBSPs soy sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Cup veggie broth

In sauce pan toss non-cooked quinoa and almonds and 1 TBSP of sesame oil. Heat until almonds begin to brown and the mixture grows fragrant, stirring frequently. Add celery, broth, garlic powder, vinegar, soy sauce and rest of the oil. Bring to boil. Decrease heat and cover and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed.

Serves 2-4 depending on whether it's used as main or side.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ I will overcome. I will learn!!!!

This weekend was mostly quiet on the home front. I had NOTHING to do on Saturday. So rare, and so nice and so rainy. So what did I do? I filled it with domesticity. I was not alone in my lazy day. These lumps set up camp right near my quasi-island so they could snatch anything I might drop.

My family ate. Unfortunately, a bit of what they ate ended up being more in the fail category than the keeper category. I have the hankering to enter some more recipes in another contest. An ingredient specific contest. So I did a lot of experimentation with the specified ingredients.

Also of note. I recently borrowed some Julia Child's The French Chef television episodes from the library. She used to visit our house via the television every once in awhile, some of my friends houses saw her more often.

Through grown up ears and eyes I enjoyed her very public oops and near fails this weekend. At one point, while slinging butter and real cream like she had her own personal herd of Holsteins, she made a reference to American's fear of failure. Ugh. Well, that still rings true. She put both her hands on her hips and trilled that we needed to be more French. The French have the attitude that "I WILL overCOME!  I Will LEARN!"

Ha. Ha. So my fails this weekend are now going to be labeled " Edible LEARNing opPORTUNities."

I will learn Julia's techniques and attitudes and avoid her meat and dairy ways. Yes. I will oVERcome and will make some lovELY dishes. BON AppeTITE.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Law Lesson...Glad I Passed...

Friday the 13th is an appropriate time to post these pictures. 

Last night's Citizen Police Academy topic was tasing. Two volunteers jumped at the chance and did not chicken out...even though they had to sit through explanations and videos and loads of stories. I'm thinking the horrific picture quality adds a splash of surreality to the whole thing, don't you?

& is out of town so I went alone to class. Part of me is secretly glad for this fact. Because had she been there, we might have talked each other into a mother daughter tasing moment. Well, maybe. I actually got a little queasy when I saw the tasing ends that they actually use on criminals. They look a lot like fish hooks.
Seriously, fish hooks. 

The volunteers got the testing ends that don't hook, they just leave little burn marks. Oh. Well, in that case, sign me up.

Why tasing? The instructor explained how effective it really is. The alternatives to using it all have the potential for greater consequences. Is it better to risk breaking someone's arm because they are fighting? Risking an officer's injury and recovery process, the safety of bystanders, greater risk of damage to property, and in really ugly situations death? With a taser, vicious or panicked animals can be subdued, imminent suicides can be prevented, lives saved and it's almost as simple as five seconds of pain and paralysis with no after effects. Makes sense. He shared some stories where lives were saved because the more debilitating control measures did not have to be taken. And had those measures been used, the costs would've skyrocketed. 

Interesting little tool I don't want to meet up and personal, ya know?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Scraps and Snippets ~ Not-Eileen's Sugar Cookies

I have a slight obsession of late. Soft, chewy sugar cookies.

Background of this obsession: we have a regional cookie store franchise in our area. Eileen's... and Eileen makes the above mentioned obsessive thought making cookies. Two batches were delivered to my office in honor of Easter.  I'm not too proud to mention that, back in the day, almost every girl's shopping trip involved a trip to Eileen's.

Those cookies still call my name every once in awhile. The colors are off-putting so I can avoid them... most of the time. After all, electric pink, rubber boot blue, garish green, muppet yellow and neon orange scream chemicals and additives.

I've been playing around with a few ingredients to healthify and veganize this cookie. The frosting is still under construction, but I had some leftover in the fridge that needed to be used up, and the combo of frosting/cookie was almost there...almost...and we all agreed the cookie has that certain it factor.

Not-Eileen's Sugar Cookies

20-24 Cookies
Preheat oven to 350

3 TBSP ground flax
3/4 Cup of apple sauce OR 1/2 a banana and 1/4 Cup of non-dairy milk. (the browner the banana the sweeter and more bananay it will taste. The one I used was yellow with a few small brown spots and was still firm. A mild banana taste was there, a riper one might be too bananay unless you love bananas.)
2 TBSP coconut oil
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 Cup sugar
2 tsp almond extract
2/3 Cup garbanzo bean flour
1 and 1/3 Cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour.

Mix the flax and banana/milk or applesauce together in a bowl and let sit a few minutes so it gels a bit.

Add the coconut oil and sugar. Cream or mix well. Add the soda, cream of tartar and salt, mix. Add garbanzo bean flour, stir. Add almond extract and stir. Mix in flour and stir until blended.

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Roll dough into 1 inch or so balls. (If too sticky dip hands in sugar)  Flatten balls slightly. You can sprinkle them with sugar if you aren't going to frost them. Bake at 350 for approx 12 minutes. Let rest for a few minutes, then slide onto a cooling rack. Frost when cool. You can keep them in the fridge. All four of us are thinking these are pretty close to Eileen's. Now. On to conquer the frosting.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Scraps and Snippets ~ Eggplant-Olive Italiano

Brilliant dinner from leftovers. 

Here's what I had.

1/2 bag of rice pasta
14 small medallions of breaded/baked eggplant (breading was flax egg (4 TBSP water, 1 TBSP ground flax)...eggplant slices dipped into flax mixture then dunked into a mixture of 1 tsp garlic powder and 1 Cup bread crumbs and baked.)
4 Chickpea cutlets from Friday night's dinner.

Here's what I did. 

Eggplant-Olive Italiano.

1 TBSP Earth Balance
Diced eggplant (1 or better yet breaded cutlets chopped into 1 inch squares)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cans (or 1 large) diced tomatoes (or if you've got fresh ones, use three.)
8-16 green olives (stuffed is fine) thinly sliced (I used 8 jumbo ones)

Heat Earth Balance until it melts and sizzles. I used pretty high heat, I wanted this stuff to caramelize. Toss in eggplant chunks and garlic. Cook until golden and cooked through, stirring regularly. Toss in olives and mix. Finally, dump in tomatoes and simmer, scraping the pan bottom to get all the good bits incorporated.

Set aside to let the flavors marry. Prepare pasta. Put hot pasta on plates, top with cutlets or skip the cutlets and just drench the pasta with the eggplant mixture.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Scribbles and Scrambles Citizen's Police Academy ~ EST

Our SWAT team doesn’t arrive in a big black ATV that belches stealthy, studly killers like we see on movies. Our SWAT team members each have a day job. Whether it’s being a detective plodding through the required paperwork that makes up the majority of his job. Or as a sergeant who gets to review all the red-light runners video footage, these guys put in their time. But when THE phone call comes they spring into action.

Action might mean, as it did a couple weeks ago, standing in place for nine hours, watching a garage door. Not exactly what you see on television. Okay, he was given hourly five-ten minute pee breaks. Oh, while watching the garage door for any sign that the armed man inside might be making a deadly move, said officer was holding a body shield. This weighed about twenty pounds, if I remember my number correctly, and had to be held at an awkward angle to protect himself from any stray or intended bullets. Oh, and he also wore a sixty pound vest. The vest was passed around the room, and though I consider myself to be a pretty strong female, it was a challenge to lift it. He wore it for nine he also had weapons…and let’s not forget the shield. Then when the situation was safely neutralized he then got to jump into the required paperwork.

Our SWAT team is called EST (Emergency Services Team). They are summoned for high-risk situations, depending on when they occur. Three a.m. or 3:00 p.m. makes no difference. They are also scheduled for high-risk search warrants. The team is made up of team players, no lone wolf gun men are “hired” because without trust in each other the team is handicapped. Rigorous training and testing is required to make the team. These officers are no doughnut eating stereotype. They are fully loaded professionals who carry their weight, the weight of others and sometimes the weight of the world. And lest you think the game is all physical think again, it’s mental, too. The commander has to assess situations, make decisions and has to consider the full consequence of their choices, and that the actions of their team may land them in hot water and in front of a grand jury. And they need to know that an order will be followed without question by the officer who receives it. For example, a flash bomb or distraction device is generally a non-lethal, lots of noise, shock and awe tool. But to deploy one requires answers and those answers better be acceptable to the powers that be.

If you ever have wondered why, in hind sight and with the limited facts given to we civilians, a better decision was not made, the above paragraph is your answer.

The EST members told a story of a stand off that ended with the perpetrator’s death. The guy had been slippery for months, hiding in special places that were booby trapped and loaded with  days worth of supplies, food and drugs. He’d set up a compound that was going to be one of those the media talks about for days, weeks, months if it was not neutralized. The team was called in and they used the stealthy approach of over land and through a creek bed. When there was a clear shot and the perpetrator was heading for a room full of fire power he was taken down. And the department was raked over the legal coals. The "victim" had not been actively shooting at the moment, just headed for the literal big gun.

Bottom line. This job is one that requires a grown-up with guts.

And for those of you who wondered about the nasty looking flesh-eating hook. It’s a break and rake. The point breaks windows, the hook rips out mini-blinds and curtains etc. so the guys can do their work. I know. I thought it was something really scary.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Monday Thoughts...

I can't do a write-up of the Citizen's Police Academy quite yet. It's been a crazy few days. And I definitely don't want to do a too quick overview of a fascinating night. Here are some pictures. Expect a few stories tomorrow. 

Michelle expects my male character building skills will grow after this Citizen's Police Academy. I think she might be right. After all, my level of respect and admiration have grown considerably. The men we've encountered are polite, friendly and take their jobs and the safety of the citizens in our city very seriously.
Gotta fly...

And, can anyone guess what the wicked looking hook is used for?  

Friday, April 06, 2012

Robert Liparulo's The 13th Tribe ~ Reviewed

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The 13th Tribe
Thomas Nelson (April 3, 2012)
Robert Liparulo


Best-selling novelist Robert Liparulo is a former journalist, with over a thousand articles and multiple writing awards to his name. His first three critically acclaimed thrillers—Comes a Horseman, Germ, and Deadfall—were optioned by Hollywood producers, as well as his Dreamhouse Kings series for young adults. Bestselling author Ted Dekker calls The 13th Tribe, released in April 2012, “a phenomenal story.” Liparulo is currently working with director Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, The Guardian) on the novel and screenplay of a political thriller. New York Times best-selling author Steve Berry calls Liparulo’s writing “Inventive, suspenseful, and highly entertaining . . . Robert Liparulo is a storyteller, pure and simple.” Liparulo lives in Colorado with his family.

Visit Robert Liparulo's Facebook Fan page:, or at Twitter @robertliparulo.


Their story didn't start this year . . . or even this millennium.
It began when Moses was on Mt. Sinai. Tired of waiting on the One True God, the twelve tribes of Israel began worshipping a golden calf through pagan revelry. Many received immediate death for their idolatry, but 40 were handed a far worse punishment-endless life on earth with no chance to see the face of God.

This group of immortals became the 13th Tribe, and they've been trying to earn their way into heaven ever since-by killing sinners. Though their logic is twisted, their brilliance is undeniable. Their wrath is unstoppable. And the technology they possess is beyond anything mere humans have ever seen.

Jagger Baird knows nothing about the Tribe when he's hired as head of security for an archaeological dig on Mt. Sinai. The former Army Ranger is still reeling from an accident that claimed the life of his best friend, his arm, and his faith in God.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The 13th Tribe, go HERE.


Supernatural suspense done well. Sigh. Robert Liparulo is a terrific author. His writing is concise but visual, and suspenseful without going over the top into gore just because he can. I’m not saying his stuff is tame…oh no, it is not tame. And it Is not without violence. There are some intense bloody battles within. At some points this suspense read hit horror levels -- Chickens you have been warned. Liparulo’s characters are imperfect and ones I want to cheer on. Many of Liparulo’s novels have included children and he rachets the overall tension with them. There was one point in the 13th Tribe that I nearly lost it. Sensitive readers may want to take note of said tear-jerker scene so you’ve got tissue handy during your 2:00 a.m. can’t-put-the-dang-book-down read-athon. Liparulo also excels at setting up seemingly impossible to escape plotlines. 

With The 13th Tribe Liparulo ramps up his storytelling with supernatural elements based on religious history. Fascinating archeological and historic details pop up regularly making this book a page-turner from page one. Every time I opened the book I ended up playing the “just one more chapter” game over and over again. If you love suspense with dusty, ancient details or supernatural good vs evil tales you might want to check into this one. If you like a great, heart-pounding story to escape into, this is definitely one of those.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Scraps and Snippets ~ Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies With a Vegan Twist

Veganized Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Veganized from the Better Homes and Garden 70’s version. The big red-checkered cover :  ).
1/3 Cup  Earth Balance
1/3 Cup coconut oil
1/3 Cup applesauce
2 Flax eggs (2 TBSP ground flax seed, 6 TBSP water. Stir together and set aside to gel)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp soda
1 Cup Turbindo sugar or Succanet
1 ½ Cups whole wheat pastry flour, unbleached white or white whole wheat or combo of any of these
1 Cup oatmeal
1 Cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
Other as desired….nuts, dried fruit bits, vegan white chocolate chips, extra chocolate chips.

Cream sugar with coconut oil, Earth Balance and applesauce, add Flax egg, salt and soda. Mix well, add vanilla, mix well. Add flour and oatmeal and stir until it is all incorporated. Add chocolate chips and/or other add-ins. (I didn’t chill my dough or use parchment paper. I will do both next time. I’d chill for at least a half hour). Grease baking sheet or line with parchment paper. Drop by spoonfuls onto baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 12-13 minutes. Makes about 40 cookies. These guys are soft and chewy. I kept them in the fridge the short time they lasted. : )

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Serials and Scenarios ~ Bonnie Calhoun's Cooking The Books ~ Blog Tour

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Cooking The Books
Abingdon Press (April 2012)
Bonnie S. Calhoun


As the Owner/Director of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance Bonnie has helped use the 220+ blogs of the Alliance to promote many titles on the Christian bestseller list. She also owns and publishes the Christian Fiction Online magazine which is devoted to readers and writers of Christian fiction. She is the Northeast Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). At ACFW she was named the ‘Mentor of the Year,’ for 2011, and she is the current President of (CAN) Christian Authors Network. Bonnie is also the Appointment Coordinator for both the Colorado Christian Writers Conference and the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference.

In her spare time she is an avid social media junkie, and teaches Facebook, Twitter, Blogging and HTML as recreational occupations. She also has a novel coming out in the Abingdon Quilts of Love series. Her novel Pieces of the Heart will publish August of 2013.

Bonnie and her husband Bob live in a log cabin on 15 acres in upstate area of Binghamton, New York with a dog and cat who consider the humans as wait-staff.


After her mother dies from a heart attack, Sloane Templeton goes from Cyber Crimes Unit to bookstore owner before she can blink. She also "inherits" a half-batty store manager; a strange bunch of little old people from the neighborhood who meet at the store once a week, but never read books, called the Granny Oakleys Book Club; and Aunt Verline, who fancies herself an Iron Chef when in reality you need a cast iron stomach to partake of her culinary disasters. And with a group like this you should never ask, “What else can go wrong?”

A lot! Sloane begins to receive cyber threats. While Sloane uses her computer forensic skills to uncover the source of the threats, it is discovered someone is out to kill her. Can her life get more crazy?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Cooking The Books, go HERE.

Watch the book video:

If you'd like to read interviews with Bonnie, try these:
Everbody Needs A Little Romance
A Christian Writers World
Novel Rocket
ACFW - Fiction Finder


Sloane Templeton finds herself book-ended by problems. Her mother passed away leaving a bookstore, a grieving daughter, a cast of quirky characters, and a rare book behind.

If that wasn't enough, Sloane also has a recent divorce under her belt and an ex-boyfriend who didn’t mind giving her a good belt when she needed it. Sloane is attempting to heal and figure out life. But circumstances keep her on her toes, and her emotions on eggshells. The new man in her life seems oh so perfect, too perfect? An offer exists for the bookstore property, and the sales force seems a little too eager to slide that sale through. Sloane’s Aunt Verdene holds the interest of the law enforcement and fire professionals in her neighborhood…and an occasional hoodlum.

This novel has sass and lots of it.  Quirky supporting characters show up in every chapter. Sloane grows from insecure to a new awareness of steps she needs to take to ease the chaos in her life. Verdene does not blow up a section of her block. Sloane discovers the true meaning of the word neighbor. And, the book ends on such a note that there better be a follow up or two.

Readers who go for quippy, sassy Chick-lit style reads will want to check into sassy Sloane. Folks who like both heavy topics and t humor in the same novel might find Calhoun’s handling of some serious issues cathartic. Mystery lovers who want t’s crossed and I’s dotted might feel frustrated with the open-endedness of the final few pages. Not for the clean-cut, feel-good inspirational fans, the subjecmatter got a little tense in a few spots.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Budding

Fun happenings over the weekend. &, one of her buddies, and I went to the farm. Yay! We planted about 350 tomato plants in one of the high tunnels. I'm telling you. You want a good core workout, three and a half hours of squatting, crawling, twisting, digging and pressing is a good one. 

We probably won't be going weekly quite yet, but it's just around the corner. It felt so good to get dirty and sweaty planting those little babies.
And there are baby buds everywhere in our yard, our apple tree, blueberry bushes are raring to go. & started some baby vegetables which have begun to grow, too. 

The weather has been so beautiful it's hard to believe we are just in April. High 80s and low 90s is just crazy. Our farmer says we are exactly five weeks ahead of schedule.

It's been so nice & has been riding her cute bike to work. Sunday she even rode to church. Isn't she cute. She arrived a hot, sweaty, quirky mess. Ha. Ha.