Monday, June 29, 2009


Two weekends ago, my lovely mother treated me to a massage at the spa at Nemacolin Woodlands, a mountain resort about an hour from Pittsburgh. The spa was very serene, and made me relax, which is a HUGE accomplishment. Well done. This was the very Zen fountain at the entrance.


After our blissful relaxation, we had a somewhat greasy but good tasting lunch at their pub restaurant, which features a huge aquarium that must be cleaned by a dedicated marine biologist. You think I joke?


Here's the thing about Nemacolin. It was a pet project of a rich woman (wife of 84 Lumber founder) with not much better to do (heard this from a coworker who worked for them but then again, it's not a huge secret). And, if you ever go, you'll see that her every whim was entertained. Such as creepy dolls everywhere.


I mean, how freaky is that? And the little "Main Street" inside of a conference center...


I personally like the pack of stuffed dogs guarding the picket fence thing. The whole thing is like a mish mash of everything, from Versailles to live zebras (no joke). Picture Theresa from Real Housewives of New Jersey ("Everything is onyx and marble!"). But, the spa is lovely and I recommend!


London 2009: Give me Liberty or give me death!

Been a little lax. No good reason. This is a post I started awhile ago. Hope you enjoy!!!

I love Liberty. It's a department store in London in a timbered Tudor revival building dating from the 20s.


It has a fabulous decorator fabric and haberdashery section as well as numerous wonderful home goods.





I of course bought things. I got my mom a little purse with Liberty silk fabric and a Barbara Higgins metallic heart key ring (got myself one as well). I also bought a remnant of home decorator fabric and a Snowden Flood mug with a London skyline on it.  Some fabulous things!




Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hey, Jicama!

I tried something new for dinner tonight. I've had jicama (pronounced HE-ka-mah for those not priviledged enough to have minored in Spanish or to watch Food Network on cable) before, usually as a slaw accompanying a protein in a froo froo restaurant or raw on a vegetable plate at a catered event, but I've never actually bought one at the supermarket myself...that is, until a week or so ago.

I saw a lowfat dip recipe that recommended it as a dipper, which led me to buy it. However, I ended up not using it for that purpose, so I was curious if there were other prep methods other than as a slaw. I found that people bake them like fries. As you can imagine, I  discovered through Googling that this was a popular topic on Atkins forums.  I decided to try it, particulary as I was hunting for something lower in calories for dinner.

[Before you get all "You have to eat to lose and don't deprive yourself," I had eaten my weight in pizza, cake, and ice cream for my b-day this past weekend and earlier in the day, indulged in a variety of delights including a chocolate covered graham cracker.]

I peeled the jicama and cut it into fry-like matchsticks. It was tougher to peel and cut than a potato, but not as difficult as, say, a butternut squash! My potato cutter/fry maker thing that I rarely get to use wouldn't cut it, but it did make a nice template for my sharp knife to follow.


I placed the resulting pieces on a baking stone covered in baking spray and then sprinkled them with ground chipotle, garlic powder, sea salt, white pepper, and sprayed them with my Misto full of olive oil.

After cooking for 20 min each side in a 450 degree oven, they came out looking brown and fry-like:


I attempted to make a dip from Greek yogurt and salsa, but failed when the salsa was too liquidy. It was still a cooler companion to the chipotle. So, how was the result? A delish accompaniment to my frozen fish filet! (Gorton's grilled tilapia--an indirect recommendation from Jennifer via my Aunt Ruth via my mom.) 

Don't get me wrong, there is not much risk of mistaking them for french fries. These are to fries as spaghetti squash is to spaghetti: good in its own right, not good as a substitute for the real thing unless you've been off the potato for a LONG time (like your whole life). (Note below the use of a lunch sized plate...which gives you a nice illusion of lots of food!) When I do it again, I'll cut the pieces thinner--they get a kind of burnt crispiness to them that way. Give it a whirl!