Thursday, September 30, 2010

Southern Dinner Delight

Oh my goodness my mouth and belly are happy! [Or, as my friend Chandler used to say (or probably still does), "Oh my stars and garters!!"] Tom and I just made the best southern dinner, and I'm already dreaming about eating the leftovers tomorrow for lunch. On the menu:

Mashed potatoes (I used red potatoes and left the skins on)

Fried okra

Fried chicken

Apple Pie (I used this crust)

And of course, sweet tea

The fried chicken was absolutely devine. I didn't think we would actually be able to produce something so reminiscent of my Mary Mac's favorite, but really it was perfect. We followed the recipe exactly (Tom did the chicken, so he gets all the credit - him and Paula Dean of course).

Chicken sizzling away:

Fried chicken, fried okra, mashed potatoes:

Apple pie:

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

wednesday night musings.....

I had such high hopes for the evening. In preparation for my Southern Dinner tomorrow (more to come on that later) I was going to bake an apple pie tonight. I realized after going grocery shopping and coming home that I don't have a rolling pin, which sure is a shame. How did I make it this far in my adult life without a rolling pin? Thats an easy question to answer: I used a soup can instead. But this looks like a pretty darned good recipe, so I'm going to wait to buy a rolling pin tomorrow so I can bake my apple pie proper.

In lieu of baking an apple pie, I think I'll go upstairs and continue reading my new favorite book: The Help. I didn't realize this book was going to be so good. I bought it in the Paris airport because it was one of about 7 books that they had in English, and I thought it would be good airplane reading. In truth, it is good anytime reading, and I can't put it down.

I finished Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by the way, and for anyone who was waiting for my opinion with baited breath: it was awesome!! It is a bit slow to get into, but I was fully into it by about page 40 or so, which isn't so very long to wait to get into a book.

Well all, Aibeleen and Skeeter are calling my name, so I'm going up to do some reading before bed. I feel like Barley and I have 100% earned this early bedtime, since we were both given multiple shots today. I got a Hepatitis A vaccine in my left arm and Tetanus booster in my right, and Barley had her rabies shot and DA2PL shot and had blood drawn for a heartworm test. Awww poor us!

Stay tuned for updates on the Southern Dinner......

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

back to the grind.....

Just got back from vacation last night, and I have to say that - as expected - Turkey and Paris were absolutely wonderful. This jetlagged girl needs to get to bed now, so I'll leave my food tour of Turkey (oh yes, there will be one) for another day. I'll also be posting about a (re)new(ed) clutch that I DIY'ed before my vacation and of course some more cooking (mis)adventures in Dana's kitchen. For now, I'll just say goodnight.

Before I do, I want to say happy (sort of) birthday to my beautiful dog Barley. Last night we went to pick her up from our generous friends' house right after our plane landed. On the way home we drove to chik-fil-a (naturally), and I realized as we were sitting in the drive-thru that exactly one year ago we picked her up from the Cobb County Animal Shelter. On September 28th, 2009 at 4:45pm (I remember this because the staff told us they closed at 5:00 and that we needed to either take her or leave her; best snap decision I ever made), we pulled a very timid, scared and sad 8 month old Barley out the door and into her new life.

I hope everyone thinking of adding a new furry friend into their lives will consider adopting from the shelter. You really are giving an animal a new start, and probably saving their lives as well (our animal shelter has an extremely high kill rate, and the fact that Barley was already in there for 9 days still gives me the what-if chills). We do realize that we got lucky with Barley (she doesn't seem to have been abused, isn't aggressive and is very friendly), and I acknowledge that dogs with an unknown past can be a little more scary than a pet you've raised from a pup (though you can get puppies from the shelter too!). That being said, adopting Barley really makes me feel that I saved a life, and I can't imagine a better feeling than that.

Goodnight y'all!!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

great dates!

Tom happens to be a super fantastic date planner, which is why I wasn't at all surprised when he whisked me away one Sunday evening on a mystery date. I love adventure, so when we headed to the local airport to get in a tiny plane (Tom is a pilot) to fly to Chattanooga, I was right in my element.

 The pilot/date planner

The lucky gal!

When we landed in Chattanooga, we got the rental car that Tom had already arranged for (he's smooth I'm telling ya) and drove into the city. After we parked we noticed a whole bunch of kids sliding down a hill on cardboard boxes, and it quickly became apparant that I would not be able to pass such an opportunity up. You can see that where I take this sort of activity very seriously, the child next to me obviously does not:

And I especially love that this same child laughs at me after he makes it successfully down and I tumble (I'm convinced children are evil):

We then ate dinner at a restaurant that brews their own root beer (score!)

And had Boston Cream ice cream at Ben and Jerrys (double score!)

Isn't that just the best date ever? Didn't Tom do a good job? I for one am pretty impressed - looks like I need to plan a stellar date of my own soon. Any ideas.....?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

cinnamon chai cream pie

You KNOW I'm making this as soon as I get back home. Yum!

Catch the Reipe (and make it before I do to let me know how divine it is) here

Sunday, September 19, 2010

farewell summer.....

To say goodbye to summer, we had a proper grill-out. We made Bacon-Fried Summer Squash and Bleu Cheese Bacon Jalapeno Burgers.

We cut up a few summer squash into slices and allowed them to sit for about five minutes. Meanwhile, we mixed equal parts flour and sugar in a bowl (about 1/2 cup each) and added a pinch of salt. The real trick to this is that we were just finishing up frying some bacon for the burger, so after dredging each slice in the flour mixture we were able to add them to the hot bacon grease to fry.

The bacon grease was not enough to do all the summer squash, so we had to add some oil vegetable oil halfway through. Flip each slice after a minute or two. Here you can see that the summer squash and bacon coexist quite nicely:

These didn't fry up nice and crispy (they were actually a big soggy), but they had a surprisingly delightful flavor from the sugar.

To make the burgers, I chopped up about a half of an onion and added it to lean beef and formed them into patties. I'm not quite sure what Tom added to the meat (I'll ask him about that and update this later), but even just the meat cooked as is would have been fine with all of the yummy toppings we added to this. After the burgers cooked on the grill, we added bleu cheese (the dry crumbles, not the dressing), jalapenos and bacon.

To top off this farewell to summer party, Tom cleared off our back patio and we ate outside in the cooling air. Since we were in Colorado this time last year, we rounded out the meal by drinking two different beers that are both from Colorado (Gordon from Oskar Blues and Ranger).

Our last tomato of the season also makes a cameo shot in the photo above!

Friday, September 17, 2010

from the bookshelf....

Today I am thrilled and completely excited to finally be starting The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. I’ve heard nothing but good things, so I’ve decided to jump on the bandwagon. Have you read the book? Did you enjoy it? No spoilers please!

I'd also really like to see the movie once I finish the book. My sister tells me that the movie is better - what do you think?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

delight (turkish)

As much as I'm trying to keep my mind firmly planted on this continent, it can't help but wander over to the Mediterranean. On Saturday we leave for a vacation to Istanbul and Olympos, Turkey, where we'll be spending some time in the city, some time on the road, and some time in the trees. On the way back we have a 17 hour layover in Paris, and I plan to take full advantage of it. Sigh, that week before vacation is difficult to get through isn't it? But I guess not nearly as difficult as the week after vacation.....

I leave you with a photo of water. This photo draws a line in the sand for me, because before I saw this water and before I took this picture I believed that I didn't have a favorite color. This - far and away - is my new favorite color. And though this photo was taken in Puerto Rico, the color still jumps into my mind whenever I think of a vacation near the water. Who knows, after experiencing the Mediterranean I may just have a new favorite color......

Monday, September 13, 2010

love, simply stated

this video is too beautiful not to share, and rather than try to explain i will just say: watch, watch, watch.....

Danny & Annie from StoryCorps on Vimeo.

{I first saw this on A Cup of Joe, but absolutely love StoryCorps and all they do}

Sunday, September 12, 2010

here's one for the dogs....

Last night as I was making blueberry pancakes, I spied a little touch of inspiration on my countertop:

My sister Laura got this for me in Ireland, along with the now infamous French press. Anyway, when I spied this cookie cutter I decided to make some homemade dog buscuits for Barley. After scanning a few recipes online, I chose one that would use up some bananas that were rapidly becoming too brown to eat, as well as some whole wheat flour that I've had for much longer than I care to admit.

Banana Biscotti

5 cups flour
1/4 cup peanuts
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 ½ cups banana
2 teaspoons vanilla

The recipe calls for chopping the nuts and pureeing the bananas (I used two), but I was pretty sure Barley wouldn't notice the difference (she didn't), so I just threw everything together with minimal effort.

Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl:

Mix the wet ingredients together in another bowl:

Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients:

After stirring the mixture, you realize that you really do need the water that is listed in the recipe. I did not add it in teaspoons as recommended, but by the 1/4 cup.

When the dough was moist enough to stick together, I put it on the counter and kneaded it.

I put it on a lightly greased pan, and pounded it into three logs.

I baked at 325 degrees for 30 minutes:

I then cut some of the logs with a pizza cutter and some with the cookie cutter. I didn't wait 10 minutes for it to cool like you were supposed to, so the cookie cutter became very hot, which is why I only made a few with the cookie cutter. After placing the biscuits on two cookie sheets, I baked them for another 20 minutes.

They smelled really good (almost good enough to eat myself!!), and even though Barley is more of a savory than a sweet dog (she prefers veggies to fruit), she really enjoyed these treats.

Friday, September 10, 2010

making a crafty envelope

A few days ago I viewed a really great idea on C.R.A.F.T. for making homemade envelopes out of magazine pages. After seeing just how easy it is to do, I decided to give it a go. I'll provide a little tutorial (with pictures) if you are also interested in doing something like this.

First, gather pages from magazines that inspire you, are beautiful, or would just simply look really darned awesome in your favorite pen pal's inbox mailbox (hard to think of mail in the physical sense isn't it?).

Choose one sheet to start with, and get out your glue stick.

Turn the page over so the "ugly" side is up, and fold all sides over 1/4 inch.

Now choose which side you want to be visible (the side with the addresses and stamp), and fold the paper up so that there is 1.5 inches at the top (for a flap).

Now fold that flap over

And fold little triangles into the flap so that it looks like an authentic envelope (this step could easily be skipped)

Now all thats left is to glue the sides together

And this is what you are left with:

Isn't that cute!! Really the only issue going forward will be coming up with a label that doesn't completely ruin the picture.

I sort of had an assembly line going, and altered each envelope in all sorts of ways (shape, size) according to what picture I wanted on the front.

See those little birds in the background? Bird pairs are the theme of 2010. Tom's sister Jamie got me those pretty glass blues above, and my sister got me these super cute owls:

Now how to get your hands on one of these beautiful envelopes (besides making your own of course)? Send me your address! I'll send you a little letter in one of these handmade envelopes (it only took me about 15 minutes to make all these envelopes by the way). Happy crafting!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Coffee's On!

This morning as I was researching my upcoming trip to Turkey, I decided to use my French Press that my sister got for me while I was in Ireland. (And if that's not an international sentence, I don't know what is.) Anyway, I really fell in love with the French press while we were in Ireland, because any time you ordered coffee that's how it came out. Nothings cuter than sitting in a B+B with a little steaming French press of your very own while you plan the day's adventures. Since I'm not at work today (hallelujah!!), I decided to try her out.

Look how pretty this little baby is!

Added two scoops of coffee:

Added some water and let it brew (sit quietly) for about five minutes without pressing down:

Pressed down:

Pour, add sugar and milk*, and enjoy!!

(Not a really great picture, but you can see how much coffee it makes - probably need a bigger one for two)

*I don't actually have any milk right now (adding to grocery list), so used some leftover sweetened condensed milk that I have in the fridge from a recent baking project instead. Heck yes innovation!!

In other more exciting news, I am dog sitting for the sweetest little big dog this four day weekend! Meet Roxy, boxer extraordinaire:

She and Barley are like two peas in a pod. It is marvelously hard to take a picture of both of them looking cute because of a) my picture-taking deficiencies  b) the lighting in the house right now c) they move like crazy d) even if they are sitting down  quietly, one of them is doing something unattractive like licking themselves. Case in point:

But she is super cute and I have definitely decided Barley needs a brother/sister to wear her out and keep her entertained during the day.

Well I had a few other cutsies to upload, but blogger is being a pain and ignoring me. So I'm just going to upload as is and you can use your imagination on the cuteness going on in my house right now.

Do you have multiple dogs? Any tips on picking out a second? And if your wildly enthusiastic (read: annoyingly energetic) black lab calmed down after you got her a full-time playmate, please let me know!
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