Sunday, February 28, 2010

Wish You Were Here

This week Mandy's photo challenge is vacation focused. Each year we kick of the summer with a week in South Padre. I took this picture during our stay in 2006.

For more wander-lust inducing pictures check out the other entries here.

For a travel agent who can help you go, leave me a comment or go here.

Photo taken by:

Saturday, February 27, 2010

National Pancake Day

I fully apologize for not telling you sooner (I myself didn't know until 5:00 pm day of), but this past Tuesday was National Pancake Day. So in the spirit of the random things we celebrate in this family, I put aside the Rachel Ray, and cooked up a few flap jacks.

And, of course in this family, there must also be bacon.

Looks like the boys didn't mind the lack of Rachel at the table. ISH packed away 4 cakes alone! He told us he was a bear and when he was done, that he was ready to hibernate.

If you weren't able to celebrate with the rest of us, no worries, I hear National Pancake Day observed is coming to your home tomorrow.

Good eating,

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Mother's Intuition

Three weeks ago we had ISH in for his 4 year-check-up. Part of the check up was an eye exam but ISH was squirreling too much during the test. So, by the end of our attempts I was frustrated, ISH was calling out random objects in no way related to the test, and the nurse felt sure he was 20/30-- a result within the normal range of vision for a four-year-old.

But for the next two weeks I had several random (and unsolicited by me) conversations with grown-ups who had vision issues of one kind or another, and most of them ending with comments that could be summed up in the statement: I wish it had been taken care of sooner.

Those conversations lead to LK reassuring me that, while I might be being overly sensitive about this, just take the kid and see. If nothing's wrong, we've paid the money for peace of mind. And if there is something wrong, we feel good that we didn't wait.

The next day the wonderful Dr. Wright squeezed us in. At the end of an unexpected 2 hours of eye exams complete with dilating and double checking, Dr. Wright was convinced that ISH was squirreling because while he was 20/30 in the left eyes, he was 20/60 in the other.

So now we're in our first week of a four-year-old with glasses. The day we picked them up, ISH's first comment was "The trees are soooo beautiful." Well that and that when he shook his head from side to side that the floor looked "rumbly"-- but I think that will go away as he gets use to it. And, thankfully he likes them and is being a good sport about it.

But I'll admit-- I'm having a hard time getting use to seeing him in them. I, of course, don't let him know that. And as time goes on, I'm sure glasses-on will seem more normal. But for now I'm comforting myself with reminders of all the cool adult guys I know that wear glasses. And with the thought that, as he gets older, there's always contacts.

I took this pictures the day we brought the glasses home, thinking it would help him feel better about wearing them-- or maybe it was to make me feel better.

1491 days to 6,

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Define: Empowering

A few weeks ago, through chasing links from one blog to another, I found a site called The Secret's in the Sauce and while the name alone is enough to cause some interest- the site is even more so (you'll notice their pink and leopard print badge on the left side of my blog). The premises of SITS is that they
are a group of women bloggers dedicated to supporting one another by leaving comments. Lots and lots of comments.

How cool! A site that helps women bloggers connect to other women bloggers and give them some love through comments. I know I love it when someone comments on my blog, so their idea really resonated with me. And through their Saturday Sharefest I've been able to meet women from, literally, all over the world.

Throughout the week they also feature blogs that they find interesting and encourage their followers to go to the featured blogs, get to know the women, and (of course) leave a comment or two. And since subscribding to their feed I've found most of their featured blogs to be a pretty interesting read. But today! Today's features got my attention: Sites dedicated to empowering women.

Excellent! I love empowering women: giving them strength and hope, and encouragement.  And you better believe I am all about following links to sites that have that as their main purpose.

However, I cannot tell you the amount of blood-boiling disgust I had for their "empowering" choices when I clicked on one of the links and found this:

So can someone, anyone! please, please explain to me how this site featuring stories on the anorexic "icons" Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, or Tiger going back to rehab, or Kelly Ripa's tattoo in ANY WAY empowers women?

Because (and I think Webster would agree with Wikipedia here) those do not
increase the spiritual, political, social or economic strength of individuals and communities.

So to SITS: If you want to link to those blogs- great. No problem. I read People Magazine while waiting to check out in the grocery store and click on a link or two when I have the time to see what some celeb has done to royal screw up their life, and I'm a HUGE fan of Kelly's arms- but I don't go to those media outlets because they are empowering. I go to them because they are celebrity gossip.

And to the reader: If you're really looking for ways to empower women, check out these sites or leave a comment and post your own.
  1. Kiva: donate money to a woman in Peru, Africa, anywhere.  Use microfunding to help her have the opportunity to achieve her dream
  2. Join Rhiannon's Beautiful State of Mind Project and spread the word that beauty so much more than emaciated women in expensive clothing.
Sending SITS a dictionary,

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mercedes Benz chords

So this week in my guitar lessons I'm working on learning not just down strumming but up strumming too-- which is actually harder than I thought it would be. But before I move on to full guitar playing (or start taking the small steps closer in that direction), here's one of the other beginning songs I learned: Mercedes Benz by Janis Joplin.

Mercedes Benz is one of those songs I always saw myself playing when I would picture in my head what I'd look like as a guitar player, but it wasn't until I listen soooo closely to hear her strumming pattern that I realized, there's no guitar in the song!

But no matter! It's one I've always seen myself playing, so play it I will. And, because I've been playing this so much as I try to get better at it- the boys have learned the words and ISH will randomly break out into "Oh Lord won't cha buy me!", which I admit is way cuter than my version, so I've included it too (Geo sings with him in the recording as well because the moment I started recording, ISH declared he was shy).

The boys version:


And if you're interested in the chords, what I was able to find online other places didn't seem right when Derek was here helping me learn, so this is what he came up with:

   D                        G        D
Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?
    D                            D           A
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.
        D                       G            D
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,
      D                        A        D
So oh lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?

     D                      G      D
Oh Lord, won't you buy me a color TV ?
   D                    D             A
Dialing For Dollars is trying to find me.
  D                      G          D
I wait for delivery each day until three,
      D                        A     D
So oh Lord, won't you buy me a color TV ? 

   D                         G            D
Oh Lord, won't you buy me a night on the town ?
    D                      D                   A
I'm counting on you, Lord, please don't let me down.
  D                        G             D
Prove that you love me and buy the next round,
     D                       A            D
Oh Lord, won't you buy me a night on the town ? 

As performed by:

(oh and check this out if you've ever wondered what Dialing for Dollars is)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I Heart Faces and Hands

Below is my entry in this week's I Heart Faces photo challenge. This week's theme is an exception to the must-have-human-face-in-picture rule since the theme is "Hands."

My picture was taken in the summer of 2008 when I was traveling through Italy with Mom and Grannie. We made a stop on the island of Burano where they're known for their lace making and this lovely older Italian woman let me photograph her as she worked.

See more heart warming hands here.

Photo taken by:

Monday, February 22, 2010

Weak Week Update

So I "Jack Canefielded" the fire out of my day only to later talk to DrEAM and find that Hep B and Tetanus shots can make you feel like sludge.

Either way, the dog got a bath.

Sweet Dreams,

Hoping This Week Doesn't Feel So Weak

I'm roughly three weeks in Physique 57 and I have been loving the immediate results I'm see all over in a short period of time (and no- I will not be posting before and after pics in this post).

But last week I was feeling no and I mean no motivation to work any of the program.

Maybe the week went to weak when I struggled to climb the 16 vertical feet of silks more on Monday than I had the week before and I got in a mental funk about it.

Maybe I've stayed up too late watching the Olympics and I'm lacking in energy in all areas of my day.

Maybe I need to remember what Jack Canefield says about when to-do lists get crowded, how it weighs everything down. So maybe I need focus on getting all those little jobs (like giving the dog a bath and folding the laundry that stares at me from the basket) done so my mind can unclog.

Maybe I need to stare a little longer at Kelly Ripa's arms

Needing some "desire to get through the next set",

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I'm glad he didn't ask to see the chicken

Thanks to Gena for the inspiration:

Before we had even entered the stage of losing teeth, I wasn't too sure what I thought about the Tooth Fairy. In our house, we had already decided to only mention Santa when he was mentioned to us (happened for the first time this year @ age 6.5) and instead discuss the virtues of Agatha the Gift-Bearing Beagle (another post for another day). And while there are baskets at Easter it's not attributed to a bunny- so we were set on those celebrations.

And it's not that I'm against the make-believe world of children- I think it's fun and let ISH talk about his invisible friends like Jacabed, Chi-cha and Soup (even though Jacabed is the creepiest imaginary friend I've ever known). Maybe it's just that we are a cash-less home and that the bank has yet to approve the requested at home ATM and that somehow a bank transfer confirmation printed and slipped under his pillow just wouldn't be the same. Or maybe it's just that I like to be little different and this is one of my outlets.

And since the first two were lost the summer before Kindergarten while he was eating cookies, and then immediately swallowed, we didn't have to cross the Tooth Fairy bridge at that time. The third tooth was lost in kindergarten and then lost somewhere in the house- but Geo made no mention of a fairy that time either.

So when it came to the Tooth Fairy it had been a Scarlett O'Hara kind of thing for us.

But these last two came loose in the First Grade, and apparently in first grade, The Fairy is all the rage.

His top two teeth came loose sometime around the end of October and while we started telling him how fun it would be to really be able to sing "All I want for Christmas," he started telling us that this loss would mean a visit (and money) from the Tooth Fairy.

ISH, at the wise age of 3, was already clued in that the money hadn't come before so he started professing that "No fairies live in Oklahoma." And I held on to that for as long as I could. When Geo would mention the Tooth Fairy, I'd ask ISH "Are there fairies in OK?"
"Well Geo," I'd respond, "I don't know if the Tooth Fairy can come, ISH doesn't think they are allowed in Oklahoma."

And this held us for a little while longer.

Thanksgiving AND Christmas came and went and those teeth were still holding strong and by mid January those teeth were starting to rival some of Britain's worst and we knew it was time for them to go! But, with the help of a few late night propaganda conversations from Geo to ISH I'm sure, by this time ISH was a believer too and I needed a new plan.

Along came my saving grace! In school Geo's class read I Lost My Tooth in Africa and Geo was fascinated with how, in some parts of Africa,
[teeth are] put it under a gourd for the African tooth fairy, who will exchange it for two chickens! Happily this happens, and even better, the chickens lay eggs

But all Geo remembered was if you put a tooth in a bowl in the morning it will be a chicken. (And somehow letting my child believe in this sort of magic seemed more fun to me than the Tooth Fairy, so I went with it). When Geo would mention the Tooth Fairy, I'd remark how cool it would be to see if they can become chickens.

Tooth fairy ... chicken
Tooth Fairy! ... chickens!

At the end of January the teeth were more gnarly than every and they needed to be removed! So we hyped up the joy of tying a string to the tooth and to the door, and eventually Geo agreed to our plan.

Three hours, multiple attempts, a little blood, and lots of tears later and the teeth were finally out. And suddenly I realized in all my effort to down play the Tooth Fairy- I had some how promised my child a chicken.

Now I had to think fast. .... I live in the city ... I have no access to chickens ... but .... I have access to .... EGGS! I have access to eggs!

"Geo," I said, "I think what would be really cool is if the teeth turned into chickens and the chickens laid an egg before it went off to live a happy tooth-chicken life in the wild."

"Do you think the egg it lays would then hatch into another chicken?" Geo questioned excitedly

No! No chickens! We can hatch no chickens!

"Better than that!" I thought quickly, "would be if the chicken laid the eggs, ran off to live in the wild, and we were able to have omelets for breakfast!"

"With bacon?!" He was buying it!

"Of course with bacon! What tooth chicken lays an egg for breakfast without considering bacon!"

So before tucking him that night we placed the teeth in a bowl he'd made at the OKC Festival of the Arts last summer, and in the early morning light, just before the seven zero zero wake up call-- I exchanged the teeth for omelet making eggs and started cooking the bacon.

Giving future therapists job security,

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Something in Green

Below is my entry for Mandy's photo challenge. This week's theme is green, which with our trip to the Emerald Isle this past summer, was a hard theme to narrow down.  But the one I chose actually didn't come from Ireland at all.  It came from a sunny day back when we lived in Midwest City when we were blowing bubbles with the boys.

Taken by:

Friday, February 19, 2010

Cooking Question: Dry and Wet Ingredients

Most baking recipes say to mix the dry ingredients together and then, in another bowl, mix the wet ingredients together and then add fully mixed wet ingredients to fully mixed dry.

Confession- I never do that. I always mix dry and then pour the individual wet ingredients over the dry and mix all together at one time.

So my question is, am I missing a greater part of cooking by doing that? Does following the directions in that instance really make a difference? Or am I okay to carry on defying the rules of baking as I have?

Explanations much appreciated.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Re: looking for the lost

LK recently posted that
After I find it, I'm going to look in one more place

Then, when someone says “it’s always in the last place you looked for it” I can let them know that’s not always true.

Which is smart, however it seems that I always tell myself, I'm going to put this some place where I'll remember where it is, but it seem when the time comes around to need that thing, I can't find it because the place I thought would be memorable place was really just place odd and hard to remember.

So while LK searches, I think I'll just get a bucket and label it "some place" and then maybe I'll remember where it is.

Now, what are the odds I forget where I put the bucket?

Just a random little response from:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Benefits of White Space, Balance, and Beatnick Poetry

One of my many majors in college was newspaper journalism. And, in journalism, one of the first elements of writing and design they teach is layout, and one of the top rules of layout- white space.

Technically speaking, white space is the area of a page left unmarked by design elements, such as, photos, graphics and text. White space is used to guide the reader through the writing in a balanced and peaceful way.

In layout design, a lack of white space leaves the reader feeling cramped, overwhelmed by the message the story is trying to tell.

However, too much white space leaves the reader left wondering where the rest of the story is- asking themselves is that all?! The exception here is Beatnick poetry.

But the correct balance of white space can be calming and soothing. The right balance of white space can give the reader a place to momentarily stop and gather thoughts without feeling like there should be more.

But this balance of white space transcends the bounds of newspaper journalism and magazine layout and meets me in my off-the-paper life as well. White space in life is the time I give myself to stop and have, if even for but a moment, time to gather my thoughts. It is the necessary space I need to make my life more "readable," more soothing, more peaceful. And I don't think I give myself enough white space most of the time.

One morning I decided I would wake up early and begin my day with meditation. I had just finished reading Eat Pray Love and felt connected to the ashram experience Gilbert had. (Subsequent mornings I convinced myself that sleeping later was "meditation" of a different color). But that morning as I sat still, mentally repeating with each breath "Be still and know that I am God," I felt such peace. And when my mind told me it was time to move and do something (oh how hard it is for me to sit still), I could literally feel my body whisper--- not yet... just. one. more. breath.

I had never felt anything like that before in my life. Clearly at that moment, I had stopped long enough to see that my life was reading like a crammed technical manual and not the enjoyable story it should be.

And honestly, I don't struggle with the "too much white space" problem. I'm not a person who can just be very well. But I feel like, if perchance you're reading this and you do struggle with that, let me encourage you to fill some (not all) of that space with valuable life experiences-- unless you're a Beatnick poet and then I'm sure you have a deeper meaning in the lack of writing.

searching for the balance,

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I Heart Photos: I Wanna Dance

My entry in this week's I Heart Faces challenge. The theme this week is I Wanna Dance. I took this picture in the summer of 2009 of the boys dancing in the living room together. I love it for the motion and the joy on their faces.

Taken by:

Click here to see more happy feet.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Out of Context

"Leave me behind George. I don't care if I die."

"Well I do. I won't leave you behind."

WW II movie? Or the boys playing their favorite game on the Wii?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

To LK on Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's day, and please pardon the midi file, I had to work with what I could find. I did use Helvetica font, so hopefully it can all balance out for you. Helvetica does cover a multitude of midi sins you know.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Now This Is Love

This week's theme for Mandy's photo contest is "love," and what says love more than a big burly daddy looking lovingly into the eyes of his little girl.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Preparing for Bhutan

I can be a big girl

I can be a big girl

I can be a big girl

This is my mantra today as I will keep my doctor's appointment to get the shots I need to go to Bhutan, Thailand and Cambodia in April. I wonder if they will give me a sticker when I'm done.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Death of a Good Pair of Shoes

Now, by good I don't mean orthopedic or in any way comfortable; but good as in memorable, dare I say fashionable, and fun.

For 7 weeks in the fall of 2000 I lived in the town of Hitachi-Taga, Japan with my Japanese host-family. Many things were memorable about my time with them and my time in Japan (another post for another day), but one of the things I loved about the women in Japan was their choice in shoes. I mean, for those of you who have met me in person, you might find it hard to believe that I am actually only 5'7" given that I'm roughly 5'9"-5'10" when wearing most of the shoes in my closet (and that height doesn't even factor in the couple of additional inches my hair gives me!). So to say I adore a good high heel shoe is an understatement. But these girls- man! They rocked the high heels!

So, when in Rome, right?

I knew I needed to come home with an excellent pair of Japanese platform high heels. The one problem I did not take into account is that my 5'7" American body comes complete with size 8 1/2 feet which are huge compared to most of the size 6 and below feet the majority of Japanese women have. While on the quest for my Japanese shoes my お姉さん Toko would continually shake her head and say "American feet too big for Japanese shoes." And most of the store owners would turn us away, knowing that to try and fit my feet would be a waste of their time.

But then, I found them. In some nondescript off the strip shopping center I found a pair of brown platform loafers that would fit. They weren't as glamours as I had hoped but they worked, and in the realm of extremely tall platform shoes they could actually be "practical."

So I bought them. And for nearly a decade I've worn them here and there, more at some times than others, but each time I wore them they represented to me all the adventures I had during my stay in Japan.

Until last night.

Last night I was out with the fam at a gathering of some 200 people I know on various levels of closeness and friendship, having a lovely conversation with one of them about life and children, when a sudden loss of balance and BAM! One of my wonderful Japanese shoes split in half and I was suddenly lopsided by a good three inches. (Hint, when wearing decade old 3 inch platform shoes it is best to remember not to keep most of your weight on one foot while pressing sideways on the other. Bad things are bound to occur from this stance).

So there I am with a split shoe trying to decide my next move.

Do I take off the shoes and walk around barefoot. Sure it's the winter but I'm inside so it's okay. Right?

Or, do I hold on briefly to the person with whom I was speaking, carefully place the broken pieces together, and remain in that very spot like part of the decor, speaking with whomever would come to me until it was time to go.

Option one could have worked if I had had the foresight to wear socks with my big tall shoes. But I didn't and by 9 pm, after a full day of wearing the Japanese beauties, my feet were funky! (And yes, I did just admit to the world at large, I have stinky feet). So to take off the shoes would mean an immediate need for departure from our evening out so as to spare those in attendance from The Funk.

And since option 2 would allow me to stay a little longer without the concern of stinky feet, I went with it. And it actually worked well. But unfortunately there was no exit strategy as part of this plan. And there is no real way to walk from one side of a large fellowship center to the other in shoes where the top is no longer attached to the bottom. So at the end of the evening, I took my cue from Romy and drug myself out of there.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Digitally Remastered

Yesterday I submitted my first every entry in the I Heart Faces weekly photography challenge. This week's theme was "We Heart Kisses" and the requirements to be met were
In your photo entry this week, we need to see some kissing. It can be at a wedding, at a celebration, between two kiddos, during an engagement shoot, or even a person and a pet. The possibilities are endless.

Just make sure that you have at least one person in your photo and that there is definite kissing going on. :)
Come to realize, we don't take a lot of kissing pictures around here. In fact, the best kissing picture we have is one that we took the day I was leaving to move to Virginia. We had only been together 3 weeks before I moved to VA, and the day I drove to OKC to say goodbye, we realized we didn't really have any pictures together. So we used one of those disposable Kodak cameras and took pictures of each other and together so we could "see" each other while I was gone. ...

Okay, okay, enough lovey-dovey, let's get down to Photoshop basics.

Here's the original picture from way back whenever I first scanned it in (and for those of you Edmond history buffs, yes that is the old playground that use to be behind the Memorial Road Church of Christ building):

The first step was to crop it down- the down side to taking a picture of yourself while having your eyes closed to kiss someone is that aiming the camera is a wee bit difficult. After cropping the picture, I used the burn tool to darken the background. The first time I tried it I tried to erase the background while having the undercolor of the file be black and then I tried painting it black, but both ended up with hard lines around our heads, and the burn tool made it look more natural:

Then, I used the dodge tool to put in some highlights:

The last step before the filter was to go back to the burn tool and with a small brush darken selected areas from the large brush highlighting:

I used the blur option two times to soften some of the lines that can occur when scanning a picture and then I applied the poster edge filter to whole file:

And then I had my final product:

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I Heart Faces- Kisses

My first entry in the I Heart Faces Photo Challenge

The Long Goodbye
From our first roll of film as a couple circa January 2000- taken the old fashion way (hold out the camera in front and snap). Recently scanned and remastered. Here's how I did it.

You can check out the other entries here

Curse You Flour!

Have I ever told you about the time that I tried to make beef stroganoff from scratch using 4 cups of flour? That stuff was thick enough to paste walls. And strangely enough, it didn't get better when I stuck it in the back of the refrigerator hoping it would turn into something better.

And flour strikes again with the Aint No Sunshine When He's Gone Lemon Rosemary Cupcakes.

Based on research done by my friend Kristen, ends up the problem was not a lack of cake flour, and unlike the stroganoff the problem wasn't an over abundance of flour, indeed it was a lack of flour all together that was the problem. As in a whole stinkin' 1 1/2 cups of flour!

So I curse you flour! I curse you to a life of tasteless, colorless existence. You are the ban of my cooking experiences.

The updated Aint No Sunshine When He's Gone Lemon Rosemary Cupcakes (for real this time) Now here's a caveat-- I liked the lemon curd, lack-o-flour experiment. But if you're in the mood for actual cupcakes, you'll want to go with this recipe.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 22 minutes plus 5 minutes to cool
Servings: 15 cupcakes I only made 12 larger ones

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups cake flour
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup milk
2 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 recipe Lemon Glaze (see below)

1. Let butter and eggs stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Line fifteen 2-1/2-inch muffin cups with paper bake cups; set aside. In medium bowl combine cake flour, rosemary, baking powder and salt; set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In large mixing bowl beat butter on medium-high for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, lemon extract, and vanilla. Beat on medium-high for 2 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping bowl.

3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately add flour mixture and milk to butter mixture; beat on low after each just until combined. Stir in the lemon peel and lemon juice.

4. Spoon batter in prepared cups to three-fourths full. Bake 22 to 25 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean. (Bake 36 mini cakes 15 to 18 minutes; 6 jumbo cakes 25 to 30 minutes.) Cool in muffin cups on rack 5 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely.

5. Spoon Lemon Glaze on cupcakes. Let stand 10 minutes. Makes 15 (2-1/2-inch) cupcakes.

6.Lemon Glaze: In small bowl combine 1 cup powdered sugar and enough lemon juice (5 to 5-1/2 teaspoons) for spreading consistency. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Doubt That I'm Serious?

Than you probably don't know me well enough.

After the fun I had in my one day Chinese Acrobatics class in San Francisco last summer, I'm totally game for this. I mean look at them, doesn't it look like all sorts of fun!

Aerial Silks Classes at Oklahoma Gold

Come fly with us!
Aerial Silks Classes at Oklahoma Gold

Adult Classes (16 years and up): Monday 7:15 to 8:45pm or Tuesday 7:30 to 9:00pm

$15 (pre-paid) a class
*No commitment, pay as you go.
*Must sign-up in advance.
*Limited Space. Only 6 per class, NO EXCEPTIONS.
Classes begin February 8th.

I'll be there Mondays!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I Got The Blues!

My first time entry in Mandy's photo contest. This week's theme: blue

Olive grove at the Palazzaccio
Scandicci, Italy

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Month A Month of Cooking Part 2

Welcome back, I hope you brought your appetite. Nothing's worse that reading about food on a full stomach! In case you're wondering (and if you're not, feel free to skip ahead), the reason I started keeping this list because my MIL doesn't like it when I cook something and can't remember how I changed the recipe to make it how I did. She says she doesn't trust a cook who won't share her secrets. It's not that I wasn't willing, it was just plain forgetfulness. So now I try to write it down before I forget. And yes, I know there are not 31 recipes on the January list, but between leftovers and evening commitments, I really only needed to cook two to three times a week. The leftovers alone on some of her recipes could feed large groups of hungry lumberjacks!

So, on with the list

#206 Strip Steak with a side of Blue Cheese Spaghetti
I put the kids in bed early one night and made this as a special meal for LK and myself. Oh my goodness! The blue cheese spaghetti alone was FABULOUS! But then with all that butter and blue cheese, how could it not be. I omitted the sage, because, from growing up in a sage free house, I don't like it and I only used 8oz of spaghetti instead of 16 so the sauce (which is the best part) to noodle ratio would be better. And since you just end up crumbling the bacon anyway- you don't have to cook it in the oven, microwaving would be just fine.

#207 Olive Butter Slathered Broiled Lamb Chops with Caramelized Zuchinni Orzo Oh this recipe was the first one I tried and it was almost the death of me. First off, if you can by tapenade in OK, I don't know where (guess we aren't that cultured). So I tried to make my own-- but read the recipe wrong or found a really bad one because I added artichokes instead of anchovies which made the whole thing look like brain matter instead of like caviar-esq olive goodness. AND the first time I read the recipe as pork chops not lamb chops so it was all kinds of wrong. The second go, with the right tapenade recipe (see below) and the right meat, was better. But since my kids put two and two together to realize that lamb on the table is the same as Mary's pet- we will likely not be eating this again.

#208 Olive and Anchovy-Slathered Beef Tenderloin Steaks with Caramelized Onion Orzo and Sliced Tomatoes I made this when my newly-married friend Denise came for dinner so we could get to know her husband. And other than forgetting the sliced tomatoes, it was a hit! And much better IMO than #207.

#235 Marinated Grilled Chicken Breasts with Zippy Chunky Salad and Garlic Dill Fries Okay the dill fries were weird- you can ask Mandy. I don't think her girls will eat anything I make ever again. :) But then I didn't have fresh dill and I think I used dill seed instead, so it looked like bugs crawling on the fries. Yuck! With this one I didn't realize I needed yogurt, but thankfully I had a cup of whipping cream and some (1 tsp) of lemon juice so I was able to make do. And even though I'm not the biggest cucumber fan, it was still good.

#236 Cornmeal-Crusted Catfish and Green Rice Pilaf
I tried to cut down on pre-prep time on this one and pre-cooked the rice, only to discover that I wasn't suppose to. (Good heavens for all the times I misread recipes you might think I'm illiterate!-- but no, just hurried.) So I did everything with the cooked rice that I was suppose to do with the uncooked rice and it was still really good. Do not be alarmed by the crazy green color of the pureed spinach. It comes together nicely in the end. I used too much cornmeal on the catfish- it should only be a dusting. But then I guess that's why she only calls for 1 cup and not whatever heaping, unmeasured amount I used. I also learned from this one that it is best not to saute shallots before going to sit in a small office with 7 other people for almost two hours. I was a wee bit stinky!

and finally, #322 Veal, Chicken, or Fish Francese with Lemon and Wine I used chicken and I forgot to drag it through the egg-- forgot to even get the eggs out completely. But it was good. It didn't puff up like she says it will (that's when I realized I'd missed something) but I think it was just right. Might not do the egg again next time.


20 Kalamata olives
1 TBSP capers
2 Anchovy fillets
1 Tsp lemon juice
2 Tsp olive oil
1 Clove garlic

Put all in food processor (or in my case blender-- food processor on my list of kitchen items to buy) and mix well

Mine did not look as good as the picture to left, but then when does life actually mirror stock photos?