Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ragged... And Loving It

I know this apology is repetitive.  I've said it before and I've meant it as much every time as I do today.  I'm sorry for my lag in posts.  This time, however, I have a good reason!  I have secured gainful employment and have been working myself ragged for a month now.  I will not disclose where I work because this is a personal blog but I can tell you that I am a Private Dining Director in an upscale restaurant and I love it.  I love nothing more than making people happy and I have finally found a job where I am actually getting paid to do just that.  I also love each and every one of my co-workers and the company I work for.  They are all so supportive and that is part of the reason I've been at work so much.  The training process is very detailed and there is lots to learn so I've been at work more than I've been home for the last month.  This has caused a change in my home life, obviously, and it's one that I'm still having a hard time adjusting to.

You see, I had gotten quite used to being the quintessential housewife.  I did the laundry, kept the house clean, did the grocery shopping, and had full meals on the table every day.  But, now that I've been working these tasks have been taken over by my husband who is also working.  Some things have lagged, the house is not as clean as it was, dishes may or may not sit in the sink for more than a day but really, it's the best we can both do.  I feel guilty for this because I have done less than 5% of this work.  The earliest I have gotten home each day has been 7:00 and that was this past Monday.  Usually it's more like 8:30 or 9:00 and I know the last thing I feel like doing when I get home is housework.  Hubby has been doing a wonderful job taking care of the things I feel like should fall on me despite the fact that I know he doesn't want to do those things after he gets home from a full day of work either.  This all leads me to my question: How on earth do people do this??

I know that it is a normal part of life in this day and age for both spouses to work and there are plenty of people who work more than I do and still get all of these things done, but how?  When I get home all I want to do is rest and spend quality time with my husband.  We still try to get to bed at a decent hour so that we are well rested in the morning when we get up so staying up late isn't an option.  I guess I could be doing something around here instead of blogging but how do I keep myself from getting caught up in the cleaning and making myself late for work?

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my job.  I feel fulfilled every time I put together an event or have a guest say "Thank you for making this easy".  I love knowing that if I don't hit my sales goals each month it is no one's fault but my own which gives me the drive to get up every day, get out there, and sell my tail off.  I enjoy my time at work and I haven't even counted the number of hours I work each day or week which is a first.  I know that things will slow down after December and I'll be able to get into a more normal routine but right now I'm just not sure how to achieve that home/life balance.  I don't bring work home.  I may be guilty of checking my work e-mail on my laptop before checking Facebook but I spend no more than 5 minutes doing so.  That's another perk of the job - when I'm home, I'M HOME.  So how, I ask, do I find that place where I feel like I'm giving 100% to my work and 100% to my home and my family?  If you have figured that out in your own life please let me know.  I think it's darn near impossible!!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Paying Tribute

Recently Hubby and I attended an Atlanta Braves game. This game was monumental for us for many reasons, some which were apparent to us when we made plans for our trip and some which were cemented last night. This season was the final season that we would see the marvelous #6, Bobby Cox, manage the Bravos.

Bobby has been the Braves' manager since 1985.  Hubby and I were 2 years old then and so he is the only manager we have ever known for our favorite baseball team.  We're both huge fans.  We cheer with the crowd even when we're just watching the game on television.  I'm fairly sure that my neighbors think I'm insane because of that.  I have been known to yell at pitchers, scream for victory, and do the Tomahawk Chop all with the windows open for everyone to hear.  It's OK, I'm secure enough to not care.  So when the announcement was made that the Skipper was retiring this year we both knew that we had to see one last game.  We had hopes, especially earlier in the season, that the Braves would make it to the World Series but just to be safe we planned a trip to see the opening game of the last regular season series against the division champions, the Philadelphia Phillies.  We didn't want to miss our chance and it just so happened that it was also the weekend of Hubby's birthday.  

This is Herman.  He was our ever so sweet usher for the evening.  He welcomed us into our section of Turner Field with a warm hello and an introduction.  Over the course of the evening he endeared himself to our hearts as he cheered for the Braves, let us all know that they WOULD go to the playoffs, he kicked people who were 20 years his junior (though still senior citizens themselves) out of someone else's seats, and told every single woman in our section that we were cute.  Herman has worked for the Braves every year that Bobby Cox has been manager, a full 25 years.  I assume he took the job when he retired from whatever it was he did in his younger life.  He saw the Braves move from Fulton County Stadium to Turner Field.  He was there for every blockbuster year in the '90s.  He was there for the strike and the year they won the World Series.  Herman is THE ultimate fan and I love him!

I know that this blog is typically about food so I had to share with you my favorite culinary delight of the evening: the Jumbo Dog.  I'm normally a chili and slaw girl with my hot dogs but when you're at the ball park there's nothing better than grilled peppers and onions, relish, and a ton of mustard.  I would also like to report that I ate this whole hot dog while wearing an all white shirt and didn't spill a drop on myself.  Hip Hip Hooray!

We didn't win that night. Despite a late rally by our good old boys the Phillies prevailed that evening.  That did not, however, change this one simple fact:

And so Hubby and I left Turner Field that evening and tipped our hats to the Skipper.  We had hoped after the Braves went on to secure the Wild Card that Sunday that maybe we would still see them in the World Series and have one last chance to say goodbye to Bobby.  But those dreams were let go last night as the San Francisco Giants took away our chances of advancing to the NLCS.  So take a moment with me to become a Braves fan if you aren't one and thank one of the greatest managers in Major League Baseball.

Thanks Bobby.  All the best.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

I'll Get To It Sometime

So, I'll go ahead and warn you, this post doesn't have much of a purpose.

I have some ideas for upcoming blog posts.

I will detail our trip to the North Carolina Zoological Park.

I will give you a pictorial view of an average day as a housewife.

I will tell you all about my current project of making myself a new Christmas tree skirt.

I will give you weekly updates on my attempt to serve 18 people Thanksgiving dinner on a budget.

I will tell you all about our trip to Atlanta this weekend for a Braves game against the Phillies. Just so you know, the Phillies took the division lead away from the Braves and now we're trying to hang on to the Wild Card bid into the MLB playoffs. And by "we" I do mean myself and the Braves. I'm part of the team....

I will tell you about the town I grew up in.

I will tell you all about Hornworms and the love / hate relationship I have with them.

But for today I'm just telling you about the things I'm going to do. That way, maybe I'll actually do them. On that note, maybe I should tell you about all of the things I need to do today before we leave, so that I will actually get them done. But then again, I don't want to lose all 5 people who read this blog. If I were to list those things you would all die of boredom. And I'm not a murderer. Unless you count Stink bugs. In which case, I'm guilty as charged and proud of it.

Here's a thought - would you guys tell me if you even want to hear about any of these things? Please, comment, tell me if I should even spend my time writing about any of this stuff. And if I shouldn't please let me know what you would like for me to blog about. World peace, the life of a watermelon, whatever.

Also, once you've done that, check out Single Dad Laughing. He's heartwarming, thought provoking, and hilarious!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I'm a Cheater

So, in reading one of the blogs I follow by Little Mrs. Married I found this other fun blog myleighashley and found a fun (could also be read lazy) way to provide a mid-week blog post.  So here you are, a wee bit of me.

{one} have you ever won a trophy? if yes, for what?
YES!  I won 3 "Glennys" while I was in high school.  It was my high school (Robert B. Glenn) drama department's answer to the Emmys.  One for Best Actress at the North Carolina Theater Conference that year in "A Friend of Mine", one for best actress in the spring show of 1999 which was "Help! I'm Trapped in a High School!", and one for ensemble acting in "A Piece of My Heart" again at NCTC my senior year.

{two} what was your favorite subject in school?
Given the above, Drama.  I was "that" girl...

{three} what time do you get up in the morning?
When Hubby has to work between 5:00 and 5:30, when he doesn't or he goes in later we sleep really late and get up around 8:00

{four} if you could open your own business, what would it be?
A pie shop.  I love making pie.  And I don't know one person who doesn't like to eat pie.  Wanna be an investor?  I'll "feed" you the business plan until you're convinced!

{five} if you could spend the evening with one rock star/band, who would it be?
Hmm, a band in the rock genre.  Aerosmith.  They must have fun stories.

{six} what sitcom character reminds you of you?
MaryJo Shively from Designing Women.  I can rant like Julia but I just don't have the guts to do it to whoever or whatever has made me that angry.

{seven} what are the 3 most important things to you?
most certainly my family, my faith in God, and my KitchenAid mixer

{eight} chips or popcorn?
Popcorn.  There is a popcorn hierarchy though.  1) Homemade, 2) Movie Theater, 3)Microwave, 4) from a holiday tin, and 5) bagged from the snack aisle

{nine} have you ever ordered anything from an infomercial?
Not from the infomercial itself but I have purchased infomercial items at the store. Many, including but not limited to a George Foreman grill, a PedEgg, and Perfect Straps

{ten} what is one thing that you are grateful for today?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Reverence & Rememberance

I, like all Americans older than 12, remember where I was 9 years ago today.  I think I will always remember.  I hope I never forget.  I was a college freshman in Charleston, South Carolina.  I had only been away from my family for a week and a half and the newness of college, new friends, a new town, new experiences, a new boyfriend, had yet to wear off and really make me homesick.  However, on this day 9 years ago, that was brought to an abrupt halt.  I suddenly wanted nothing more than to be at home with my mom hugging me and telling me it was going to be OK.  I woke up a little before 9:00 that morning.  Unlike most new college students, my classes didn't start until 1:30 in the afternoon.  For an 18 year old who had never been on her own it was great.  It was even greater that my first class of college was Mixology - the science of being a bartender.  I wasn't even old enough to drink the beverages I was learning to concoct but how cool would that make me among my high school friends when we all saw each other again at Thanksgiving?  Anyway, I got up that morning and 2 of my room mates had already left for class.  My third room mate Megan, who I shared a bedroom with, had not quite roused herself from sleep yet so I shuffled in my pajamas to our living room and turned on the television.  I was immediately stunned and confused by what I saw in front of me.  The words the reporters were saying didn't register to me, all I remember seeing were people in New York running and it looked like they were covered in snow.  It seemed like an eternity before I realized what had happened, a plane had been flown into the World Trade Center.  I watched in awe, waiting for answers on what had happened.  Was this an accident?  Was this an intentional attack.  "Surely not, this is America after all."  I remember thinking that.  Clear as day.  Then I watched in horror as the second plane hit the second tower.  I heard Megan move in the next room and went to get her.  I told her what was happening to the best of my ability and had her come into the living room and watch the news reports with me if for nothing else but to confirm that I was actually seeing and hearing what I thought I was seeing and hearing.  For the next couple of hours I sat in front of the television somewhat in disbelief of what I was seeing.  I saw the report of a plane hitting the Pentagon.  I heard about Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.  I still kept thinking "This can't be happening.  This is America.  This can't be happening."  Eventually I embraced the fact that it was happening and my life was still happening and I had to go to class.  I dressed and walked to the bus stop where for the first time no one was talking to one another.  The bus ride from West Ashley to our downtown campus was silent.  When class started our teacher, Mrs. Hawkins, first asked us if there was anyone in the class who had family members in New York or Washington that they couldn't get in touch with.  She then told us that if we felt like we needed to go home we were welcomed to but she had a bit of advice before we made that decision.  She said that while these events were tragic and mind blowing, she thought that the best thing to do was to keep going on with our lives.  To help each other by keeping ourselves busy.  To not let these people, these wretched and frightening people who were responsible for these events, to have the power over our lives that they were trying to take.  We could do this best by going on with our lives and while not disregarding what happened or acting like it didn't happen but instead using it as a reason to go on, show our strength as Americans, show that they could not cripple us or disable us.  She was a wise woman.  So I stayed.   Class ended early that evening and I think I got home by 6:30.  My new boyfriend and I went downtown just to get out and walk, be where other people were, people who were sharing our fear and disbelief.  Something about staying at home that night seemed so stifling. That night a place that was usually alive and full of tourists on vacation was empty.  I remember most walking down King Street and for all the world it looked like it was 2:00 in the morning instead of 8:00 pm.  Shops were closed.  The sidewalks were nearly empty.  Signs were posted in doors alerting customers who weren't even there that the owners and staff were taking the time to be with their families and pray.  It was a strange world that evening.  One with so much uncertainty as to what was going to happen next.  Would there be more attacks?  Where was there 9 left to try and attack?  Would we go to war?  Who on Earth were we going to fight if we did go to war?  What happened?  Today I pulled out the journal I started the day I moved to South Carolina and had to flip only a couple of pages to find what I wrote that day.

"I'm scared to death.  There's been a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center & the Pentagon.  Both of the World Trade Center buildings have collapsed.  There's no telling how many people are dead and I haven't left the apartment to see how everyone around here is reacting.  But, I'm so scared.  I'm afraid that there's going to be a war.  I'm even more afraid that it's going to be on our soil.  Around us.  I really wish I didn't have to go to class.  I'm just so scared of what's going to happen."

9 years later, at the age of 27, I don't think I would react any differently than my 18 year old self did.  I still pray for our country.  I always will.  I will not ever forget.

"Time Does Not Change Us.

It just unfolds us." - Max Frisch

Below I offer you almost 3 years of my life.  When I moved into my house in 2005 I designated one room in my house as a "craft room".  I painted one of the walls with chalkboard paint with the idea of jotting down ideas and sketching out patterns.  Instead it became a place where my friends left their mark with chalk.

Every couple of years I erase it and start over but before I do I take pictures of each message and picture so that I don't lose the love and laughter that was left in my home just for me.  Here I will share with you 2 years worth of visitors.  Some of them will never step foot in my house again but, in retrospect, each one left a bigger mark on my life than they did on my wall.

These messages are from my awesome sisters in law.  They came to visit me before we were married, before I even had an engagement ring.  This is a testament to how wonderful his family is though.  They embraced and accepted me as part of their family from the first time we met.

This is from one of my sister's ex-boyfriends.  He came to my house one Christmas for dinner with the family and got wrangled into installing my wireless router.  I guess it took a while.

I had a party once.  I can't even remember for what.  But this is from a room mate of my other sister at the time.  Moe is awesome.

I think this is from the same party.  A friend brought his friend Dirk and at some point in the night we ordered a pizza.  The first number we dialed was incorrect and the person called back.  This is how Dirk answered the phone.

My awesome sister.

I'm not sure which child drew this awesome Christmas picture but it's a treasure.

Before my Hubby was even my boyfriend and before I ever met his friend Mike I started keeping score of things we knew. I got this point for knowing that "nabs" is a southern term that refers to snack sandwich crackers.  More specifically, cheddar crackers with peanut butter filling. This is still the score.

I think this is from my other sister, Tabitha.  If it's not and you lay claim to loving me, let me know so I can give you credit.

This is from one of my cousins.  Either Ian or Ryan.  I'm not sure which one.  I'm not sure if it's grammatically correct or if it's even all in the same language.  But what do I know?

Either Heather or Tabitha.  It's a heart full of siblings.  It makes my heart smile.

A bad series of dates.  However, that bad series of dates is partially what led me to realize that I was head over heels in love with the man that is now my husband.  So I appreciate that bad series of dates.

Tabitha went to Canada for an internship shortly after she wrote this on my wall.  She was gone a couple of months and then came home but there was never any chance of forgetting where she was while she was gone.

My adorable friend Kayla.  She's the daughter of a friend and co-worker of my parents.  My mom says that she's just like me when I was younger.  I hope Kayla takes that as a compliment.  I do.

My godson's mother marked his height at the time of their visit.  He's 4 now.  Amazing.

I think I drew this.  This is the extent of my artistic ability.

This is my most cherished message.  My Aunt Sherri left this one at my Mom's 51st birthday party.  She passed away the next April after fighting breast cancer like a champ.  I won't erase this one.  I can't.  I'm thinking of cutting out the piece of wall that it's on and framing it to take with me when I move.

So that's me.  Or, 3 years of me.  In those 3 years I went from being alone in my home and without a relationship to being married and a housewife.  It's been a heck of a ride.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I Can Can, Can You?

I've had that title floating around in my head for a month.  I apologize again for the break.  I can only blame my usual 2 excuses - life and laziness.  However, today, the dishes are done, the laundry can wait until Saturday, and I am procrastinating the menial chores of dying my hair and peeling pears.  What a transition into the purpose of my blog!  Pears!  I am peeling these pears to make pear butter which I hope to can a LARGE batch of early next week.  For those of you who will receive this pear butter for Christmas, be excited, be very excited.  Also, be prepared, because the photos in this post do not include pears.  They include tomatoes I canned earlier this summer.  I realize that in today's culture very few people my age can and preserve their own food.  In fact, my husband and my sister-in-law, Briana, are the only "twenty somethings" I know who continue this age old practice.  It is my hope that with the current push of "going green" more people will pick up the torch and continue.  It's a way of making sure there isn't a waste when you grow your own food.  It's a way to support local farmers when they sell their fresh produce.  It's a way to reduce household trash and in turn save money as the jars used to contain the food are reusable and they lessen the need to buy canned foods at the grocery store. For me the most important reason for canning is having access to food that tastes, in my own opinion, ten thousand times better than that which you can buy at the store.  Below, I will chronicle the process I use to can tomatoes.  I use the water-bath method of canning for tomatoes because they are high in acid and quite honestly the pressure function of a canner scares me a little.  One day I will embrace it when I am forced to can products which necessitate that method but, for now, I stick with what I feel safe with.  Please note, I would prefer it greatly if you wish to learn to can for you to purchase the Ball Complete Guide to Home Preserving for specific instructions rather than using this post.  It's a matter of food safety and I don't want to be responsible for your botchulism in case I leave something important out.

I began this journey with tomatoes.

LOTS of tomatoes!  My Grandaddy provided all of the red ones.  We grew these little yellow beauties!

They're called Yellow Jelly Beans, a sweet variety of grape tomato that I am still gathering in mass quantities, sometimes up to 50 a day.  You may notice the "x" marks at the bottom of each tomato above and below.

I do this because I have to prepare the tomatoes.  I take out the cores, any "bad" spots and bruises, and then I mark the bottoms with an "x".  This helps me when I take the skins off.  From this point I quickly blanch the tomatoes and then submerse them into an ice bath.  The "x" lets the steam and hot water get under the skin so that I can slip it right off after the blanching process.  The comes the jars.

It doesn't HAVE to be a Ball jar.  It could be a Kerr.  It could be a Mason.  There may be another brand but I don't know about it.  However, what is more iconic than a glass jar.  They are used for more than home canning.  Some people drink out of them.  Some restaurants use them as their primary drink vessel.  Then again, so do moonshiners.  Not that I've ever drank moonshine or know where I might be able to find it or know people who may have made it.  Not me.  Not ever.

So after preparing the jars, making sure they are clean and sanitary, I stuff all of the tomatoes I can into each jar with some salt and citric acid while leaving proper head room.  If you need a technical description of head room please refer to the book I recommended earlier.  The end up looking kind of like this.

All of those red tomatoes filled up 5 quart sized jars.  All of those yellow tomatoes filled that one little half pint jar.  Amazing, huh?  They'll be spectacular when the weather gets cold and I have no options for home grown delicious flavor packed tomatoes.  Then I follow the instructions in the book to process them.  For water bath canning it takes approximately 90 minutes in boiling water.  Believe me, it warms the house up.  It's a shame you can't can in the winter.  I suggest having some lemonade nearby during this process.  It helps cool you down.  The upside is, if you need a facial, just peek in on the jars.  The steam does wonders.  Anyway, this is what they look like when they come out.

Then you wait.  Within 10 minutes you will start to hear the most glorious noise.  Pop, Ping, Pop.  Those are the seals.  As the jars cool on the outside, the tomatoes inside are still raging hot.  The gap in temperature causes suction and all of the air is forced out and those little seals just suck in and make a wonderful noise.  The one you hope for and dream about.  Maybe it's not that revolutionary to you but it is to me.  Just try it once, you'll share in my joy.

Gross Out Alert and Side Note: To those of you that watch True Blood - look at the red tomato jars.  Do they not slightly remind you of the jar of "Talbot remains" that the King of Mississippi carries around?  Maybe it's just me.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Meat Muffins

Thinking back on my choice of title, maybe that doesn't sound so good.  Then again, it's an attention grabber!!  Anyway, today we will focus on the ONLY way I will eat meatloaf.  Historically speaking I am an absolute meatloaf hater.  However, a couple of years ago my daddy was given this recipe and I totally LOVE it.  I felt that I should share it for all of you other meatloaf haters out there.  Also, I can see where this would be a great way for parents to hide all kinds of veggies in their kid's food.  So for your palate pleasing pleasure I present Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf Muffins!

Begin by chopping the following:
1/2 Cup Bell Pepper (I had to use banana peppers, it's what I had)
1/2 Cup Onion
1/2 Cup Button Mushrooms
1/2 Cup Bacon
2 Cloves Garlic

Fry the bacon until soft to render the bacon grease and then add the veggies.  You won't have to worry about draining anything because the veggies (mushrooms in particular) will soak it all up.  Just tell yourself it's added flavor and deny to yourself that it is added fat. :)  Then let that mixture cool completely.  Oh, and preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  I always forget that part.

Grate a 1 1/2 cups of cheddar cheese.  On a side note, this little bowl that my cheese is in is actually the base to my box grater!  I bought it at Ikea.  It has 2 interchangeable grater plates for feather and fine grating and a lid for storage of leftovers!  I only paid $6 for it and I think it's adorable and fabulous.  I just wanted to share!

I just realized I should have edited this picture and fixed the white balance or something.  Oh well, forgive me.  The meatloaf base is:

2 Pounds Ground Beef
1 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp. Yellow Mustard
2 Tbsp. Ketchup
1/2 Cup Oatmeal
1 Egg

I didn't picture the egg because, well, I didn't have one.  It was an odd day in the Wilson house.  Just pretend that it's there.  Add the cheese, vegetables, and bacon and squish, squish, squish!  I find the best way to properly combine meatloaf is with your hands!  

Portion the meatloaf mixture into the cups of a muffin tin.  I imagine this could be used to make a traditional style meatloaf, but where's the fun in that?  Small food tastes better.  Small food is already portioned.  Small food is cute!

Bake the "small food" for 30 minutes.  In the mean time, prepare the sauce!

Whisk together:
1/4 Cup brown sugar
1/4 Cup Yellow Mustard
1/4 Cup Ketchup

Get it as smooth as you can.  I can't keep brown sugar completely fluffy because I live in the south and because the south is humid.  I even keep it in the freezer.  I'm not sure what that does but my mother in law does it and it works better than my canister.

After the muffins have baked for 30 minutes, spoon 1 teaspoon of the topping over each muffin.  Place the muffins back in the oven for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and serve!  One of the things that makes me feel better about eating these muffins is that I can see all of the fat left behind in each muffin cup when I serve them.  I mean, I know these aren't health food by any stretch of the term but somehow I'm a little comforted when I see what I could be eating but I'm not.  But, I digress.  

Here's the finished product:

I serve them with green beans and smashed potatoes every time.  I mean, what's more American than that?  Let me know how much you love it!

Six Cup Muffin Pan on Foodista

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Generation Celebration

I apologize for the lack in food pictures lately.  I haven't actually done much cooking this week.  Only a cherry pie for Hubby.

I LOVE to make pie.  It's my favorite thing!I also love any excuse to use my Fire King Jadite pie dish.  It makes my heart swoon!

Anyway, on to the Celebration for Generations.  Monday was my Grandmother's birthday.  She's 18 again! :) 

 Isn't she adorable?  Of course she is!  She's Grandmother!  Now, I know I'm partial, but my Grandmother is the best!  I stayed with her every day as a child before I started school and then every summer after.  She made me "special biscuits" at lunch in the shape of teddy bears and flowers covered in butter, cinnamon, and sugar.  Every day at 4:00 we had tea and crumpets and she would make special sandwiches cut out with cookie cutters and peanut butter cookies.  We would pretend we were Mrs. Peabody and Miss Applebee and pin the curtains together so that it would be dark and "elegant".  She taught me to read and play I spy, Red Light, Green Light, and Giant Step (kind of like Simon Says).  She would play her Elvis tapes and we would dance to Jailhouse Rock and Blue Suede Shoes.  She taught me life lessons like how to love unconditionally, how to make my world the best it could be by finding the good in everything, and how to NOT take crap from anyone.  She's my hero and I love her so big!

As has become tradition, my mom and I took her shopping on Monday.  We spent the whole day at the mall and as an added surprise to Grandmother, my Aunt Bobbi (Moma's sister) came in from Carolina Beach just for the occasion.  I never did get a picture with the three of us because either my mom or I was behind the camera.

This is our lunch crew.  We ate at Grandmother's FAVORITE restaurant, The Olive Garden.  My mom is in the dark blue shirt and Aunt Bobbi in the light blue.  We were also joined (another surprise for Grandmother!) by Grandmother's friends Martha and Brenda.  It truly was a wonderful day with three generations of my family's spectacular women!

On a side note, I found the items in the picture below in the Dollar Store.  You know, that store where everything in it only costs $1.  Somehow I don't think that these are meant to really add bling to your car.

Also worthy of note is this shoe as modeled by Grandmother.  It's hideousness and the high price of somewhere near $40 I qualify it as the worst foot wear monstrosity I've ever seen in my life.  Even with Grandmother's beautiful face it still cannot be considered as something someone would SERIOUSLY put on their feet!  If any of my readers actually like or own this pair of shoes I do apologize for my differing taste.  I invite you to model them for me with your complimenting outfit.  Sometimes things look better on than off.

However, I will leave you with this beauty.  I only wish I had a dress worthy of wearing these with.  They, along with my beautiful pie dish and Hubby, make my heart swoon!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My 15 Minutes

I'm floored.  I'm flabbergasted.  I'M FANTASTIC!  I was congratulated today by one of my Tasty Kitchen friends, Kay Heritage, for having a featured recipe on the Tasty Kitchen site.  When I read it I thought, "What do you mean, featured?  I just looked at TK earlier today.  I didn't see any of my recipes.  I mean, I've only posted 2 and only 1 has a picture!"  Then I found the archive button.  Apparently I was featured yesterday.  In the number 1 spot.  MY recipe was the NUMBER ONE featured recipe on Tasty Kitchen on the one day I didn't look!  I guess my fame is like boiling water.  As long as I'm not watching, there it is!  Now, I'm not going to lie, I teared up a little.  I mean, Hubby is constantly kidding with me by saying that TK is a cult for Pioneer Woman and we're all going to get together and drink the special Kool-Aid out of our oven mitts.  Just in case any of my TK buds are reading, he says this all in good fun and has NEVER been disappointed by any of my trials of TK recipes.  Today my dedication paid off.  Well, I guess it was yesterday.  In any case, I have been recognized by the Fraternal Order of the Mitt.  I will go to sleep tonight a happy girl!  LONG LIVE TASTY KITCHEN!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Peach Perfection

I don't have very many truly blissful memories from my childhood that involve my father.  It's a long story and this is a happy place so I won't go into detail but, let's just say that time and anger have erased many of them.  One that I do have, however, is a dish he used to make every once in a while.  He didn't cook much.  Usually just steaks.  But once in a blue moon he would make what I remember him calling "Canton Pork Chops".  When I was small I thought it was "Can-Time Pork Chops" which made perfect sense to me at the time.  When we had it he used home canned peaches which was part of what made it such a treat.  We didn't have peach trees so someone had to give them to us and we cherished them down to the last lick of peach juice.  Once I reached adulthood it dawned on me one day that it was one of my favorite things that I hadn't had in literally at least a decade and a half.  I didn't know exactly know how he made it and my mom didn't have a recipe around but I could remember how it tasted.  Savory but just a little sweet with a hint of cinnamon and spice.  So one day, I bought some pork chops and fresh peaches and set out to find a little piece of heaven, my childhood, and the good parts of my dad.  I decided to alter it a little today, using a pork loin roast instead of pork chops, and I actually took the time to remember what I did and photograph it and share it with you.  So here you are, a piece of my childhood and my heart.

Season a pork loin roast with salt and pepper.  You can use pork chops also, obviously, but today I used a roast because it was what I had.  Be generous with the S&P.

Heat a stainless steal or cast iron pan until it's rocket hot.  Add a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil and let it get rocket hot.  Then add the meat, seasoned side down, and let it sizzle and crackle and pop for a good long while.  In the mean time season the other side.

Properly seared meat should look like this.  Caramelized and crusty.  YUM!

Take the meat out of the pan and take the pan off of the heat to cool a little.  Turn the heat on the stove down to just above low.  Then add a tablespoon of salted butter and let it melt.

Add two cloves of chopped garlic to the butter and let it cook for just one minute to start to release the flavor.  

Then add 3 cups of sliced peaches.  Please use either fresh, frozen, or home canned.  The ones in the cans at the grocery store that you can find in fruit cocktail are scary and don't cook well.  Trust me, don't go there.  Also add 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and salt and pepper.  Stir everything to combine and use your spoon to get all of the "yummy bits" off of the bottom of the pan.  You don't have to cook the peaches through because they'll spend a long time in the oven.  

Pour the peach sauce over the roast in a baking dish and then put in the oven at 350 degrees.  I guess I should have told you to pre-heat the oven to 350, huh?  Well, there, I just told you.  Anyway, then cover the dish with aluminum foil and let it bake for about an hour depending on the size of the cut of meat you are using.

This is what it will look like when it comes out of the oven.  The peaches will shrivel a bit and brown.  The yumminess will meld with the meat and you will be happy when you eat it.  I promise!

Let the meat rest about 15 minutes and then slice it thin against the grain.  Top it with the peaches and a little bit of the sauce.  Then eat.  Eat and think of me.  This particular dish gives me the warm fuzzies inside.  I hope it gives them to you as well!