Saturday, February 27, 2010

Letter to Readers

Readers, I thought I should let you know that for lent I gave up this NYR. Wait, that’s not right. However Readers, I have sinned. You guys know that I recently went through an abridged version of buying a house. Whereas I hear most closings take place in about 45-60 days past first visitation of the house, I, never one do to things slowly, had an intense 16 days from find to closing (on Friday, February 19). Physically, mentally and emotionally drained, on the night of the 19th, after a 4pm closing time and a day spent chasing my down payment down, I….

How can I build this up longer to truly express it’s severity. Readers, this is my first house. My family never owned a home when I was growing up, and I have lived in some of Georgia’s poorest towns and precarious locations. Currently reading Outcasts United (and you should be too), the story of a group of refugee kids playing on a spectacular soccer team in Clarkston, GA, I can remember when I lived in Clarkston too. When it was my parents, baby sister & I in what at that time was a town that could flip either way socially and economically, into the time when it made that flip, not “for the better” to living in that same apartment with my dad, stepmom, stepsisters, sister, half-brother, and step-niece (I add the steps and halfs for story sake), to then visiting in 2000 with the hubs and seeing that same apartment with no front door and inhabited by squatters, one room full of dried leaves from a broken window, what used to be my childhood bedroom.
In high school, I think I was strong because doing the laundry was my chore (actually along with all of them, my mom believing that if she worked and supported us, that I should take care of the house), but we did not have a washer & dryer, and even if we did, the apartments we lived in were not the kind that had hook-ups! So, I weekly walked and carried our laundry, for 4 years, to the Laundromat. That’s why I have these guns here (kiss bicep, kiss bicep).

All of this just to say, the week of purchasing my own home, that’s mine, has been overwhelming. So at 6pm, when the closing was complete, the keys were mine, and handshakes with the lawyers and the realtors were finished. I cried. I was a wreck. I wished my mom could have seen me or my house. I felt like a little of my gutter-rat persona had been cleaned away. It was late. I was famished.
Readers, I literally said, “fuck it, go get food wherever you want,” and I paid to eat out after 50 days. Readers, to make matters worse, it was Choo-Choo’s and it was utterly disgusting! My food tasted (and not kidding, smelled) like a dirty, wet dishrag. I could not finish it. The next day we were lucky enough to have all of our meals provided by the hub’s folks & the UGA parents, and that was all 3 meals which is something to be thankful for! The next day, Readers, I did it again. I can’t even recall what it was and I can tell you it was not worth it, because every time it happened, I kept saying to myself “this should taste better”!

As of Tuesday, I was back on the NYR. I am not trying to make excuses, but I did find the move (and surprisingly so much other stuff going on) to be very stressful and food is my comfort. We have been in the house for an official week now and I still have not gone food shopping, mostly because the previous owners did leave so much stuff/food here!
Readers, I understand if I have failed you, or if you no longer want to follow my blog/journey. I know we are not really given time-outs in life, but I’m hoping that you look at this as more of a mulligan of sorts, continuing to play the green, but giving myself the scratch (I think I confused my golf analogy into a billiards one. I guess too much Warren St. John can do that to a girl). I think that good things have come into my life as a result of this NYR, and I want to sustain those things as long as I can. I still have more meals to learn to make and a kid to inspire (too strong a word,, please help me think of another) to cook. I think in some way we got this house because of this NYR, we never have money and I don’t think it’s magic (though wouldn’t that be nice!) that we were able to this year. I have a new kitchen to break in, and now that I have all my photo magnets on the refrigerator, I guess I am ready.

Readers, thanks for waiting, understanding, and sending me some good vibes and recipes and I plead with you to keep it up!
PS: I will be bulleting the past two weeks noteworthy food happenings soon.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Best Food in the World

Readers, I have moved many times in my life and I don't know that I have that firm feeling of roots. As the first person born in Georgia in my family, I have a right to my southern title, but I do talk a little fast & I usually think of where I'm "from" as New England, even if I never lived there, since that's where my folks are "from." I don't use ya'll, but you guys. I don't like grits, but consider myself as someone who Runs on Dunkin. Then something happened...
I married a true Southern boy. Yes ma'am. His hometown began to morph into my own. He asked me to marry him there on a tree that ran into the local lake. For a while, we raised a kid and da sis there. Lived in our first home there. I laid block (one singular block, but hey, it's my block!) there, and somewhere in all of that, the town won me over.
We don't live there but we get back pretty often, and on Friday of last week we went back to get home owner's insurance (whoa). Readers, we stopped in heaven along the way. Heaven being The Crossing, a local mom and pop shop open weekdays for breakfast and lunch only. Great memories that I have from The Crossing would be early morning picking up the hubs from third shift and stopping by for a bite, or the time Da Sis and I went after staying up for Relay for Life still muddy in our pajamas (our theme was pajamas, it's such a smart theme for having to do anything for 24 hours) but catching that second spastic wind so we could go and grab a ...
Look at this, next to my crazy long finger, the size is mammoth!
Readers, I love some Chick-fil-A, and you know this. There is absolutely no compassion to The Crossing. The crossing taught me to term "cat-head biscuit" (when a biscuit is so huge that it is the size of a large cat's head). There is just not a time when a chain is going to compare to a local food joint like this. The quality is insane. As I bit into my chicken (with shredded cheddar cheese) biscuit, the juices actually squirted out. I was literally hopping in the car as we were eating. The hubs got a tenderloin biscuit with tomatoes & mayo, and they asked him if he would like salt and pepper sprinkled on top of it (followed by the word, "hun"). It's just the best place & I would give up this NYR tomorrow if The crossing was closer to me and not an hour drive away.

Cake Auction

(These are all school cakes)
Readers, it’s an old hand by now that I am not buying food out, but I came upon a strange situation, my kid’s annual cake auction. Now I do not have the freedom or liberty to get to be one of those moms that is able to be “room mom” or PTO chair, I am pretty happy when I get that kid to school on time and his clothes are not inside out.

When the kid was first in Pre-K and Kindergarden, I was at his school all the time, probably annoyingly so, as I was an undergrad and did not have a job outside of student and mom. In the last couple years, with working full time and being in graduate school, I am not able to participate in too much with the kid’ school. My one salvation of not feeling like the useless school supportive mom was the annual cake auction. I go big most years, never having bought a cake for less than $40, and usually buying a store made cake for sale also.
Who does not need some more Spongebob in their lives, or mouths?
The cake auction was upon us again and I realized I could not buy a cake from the school. I specifically declared food fundraisers off limits. I felt I had two options, either make a cake, which should have been the easy choice as I am learning to cook and all, but my cook books are all packed up at this point.

The next option was to put in some volunteer hours. That’s what I did, I volunteered for 5 hours, in the morning and evening, for whatever that is worth in the cake auction money to time conversion. This cake was almost 15 pounds, 3 of which were the M&Ms inside the candy glass top. It was the most amazing cake I have ever seen in real life.

Excuses for being tardy & Bribes

As with all things in life, of course the week I am packing up one house to move into another is the same week that my computer crashes. I was able to recover almost everything, but my new computer does not have a photo card reader, nor do I possess the camera cords to input information to the computer, so what I have is about 500+ photos (of more parties, the new house, lots of food) that I was not able to get access to.On top of which, I am exhausted. Between packing (and planning what stays for our moving sale), work, the kid (and we had “snow” so he has not been in school full time the past 4 days), a Huge school project due (and another one this week), and planning for our yearly weekend at a Dance Marathon (which of course is the same weekend we planned to move into the new house), I am losing my mind.
But that was my complaining, and it’s over. Thanks Readers, I needed that. For being such good sports, How about some sneak peak pictures of my new house? It is a little bit more enjoyable since the house happens to be furnished, though none of that furniture is in the rooms where we would like it (wah wah).

Thursday, February 11, 2010

So busy!

I wish this could be a longer post, but it's all i got right now. My food and time amounts are about the same, small. My food consumption for today has simply been dark chocolate espresso trail mix from Target, and may I say, 'It's wonderful"! I don't know that it is good for me, nor that is will satisfy my hunger, but it is the most delicious trail mix I have ever had!
While pricey, it is a snack of a higher level!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Birthday Wrap-Up including the Surprise!!

Whoa Readers, Whoa! I know it has been a long time, but for amazing reason, which I will make the very last item on here (haha!). It has been over a solid week and I am still not too sure if I have caught up on all that is going on, in fact I know I have not. Since I have not had enough sleep lately, this post will read like a manic coffee cycle from hell. My last post was the Mac n’ Cheese I made on the 31st of January. Since that time, yes, I have eaten out a lot, not paid for a dime of it and it was all for birthday presents.
On Feb 4th, actual Bday, I had Waffle House breakfast with UGAdad, Chinese food lunch with my associate dean, the hubs made insane steaks at the house for me with enough dripping to put in my Blue Box Mac n’ cheese (which I love having drippings in, grossing you out a bit, right?), then downtown drinks with Teece and The Jam.
On Feb. 5th, I had a pot luck Bday party because I am the luckiest girl in the world & have the greatest friends, sorry that you just found out that your friends are not really the greatest because it’s actually My friends that are. Readers, I even made something to eat. Spiral noodles with homemade pesto sauce (what, what!) See? Looks yummy! I got this super choclately cake, with 30 candles on it, and we had such good food. I loved these mushroom stuffed... things (someone please read this post and write what they are) that were from Trader Joe’s, that makes me wonder why don’t we have one of these where I live? We watched the Haiti special on some music channel, talked and just had a good time, I hope!
On Feb. 6th, I spent the day cleaning every little thing out of my outside storage... or wait, the hubs did that, I took a nap. Which was fine bc I was getting ready for my triumphant return to going downtown! I had a house party w/ yes, drinking games, and pictures that were immediately deleted upon the next morning (sorry Fievel’s mom), and then made our way downtown. There was some tasty food at that too! I got a Krispie Kreme donut cake-equse treat, in fact, I got several! The first box was Boston Crèmes with “Happy B-Day KA” written on them. The next 2 boxes were glazed that all had descriptors of me, such as, “bad-ass scar, lifesaver, cool fam”, etc). It was so exciting and I was really touched!
Feb. 7th is Superbowl and I did get to go cheer having friends that are wonderful, and like I already said, the greatest, with no official ties to any teams his year, I got to try both of these without fan guilt. So here are the two cake's at my BarTopShot Beauty's (which is better than Mahjong Mama, in my opinion) house. It was the best cap to the weekend!
But wait, the surprise! Also on Feb. 7th, the hub’s folks took me out for Bday lunch at DePalma’s, and then we drove them by...
Readers, ready for the surprise?
Our new house!
We found it 11:30pm on Feb. 2, saw it on the 3rd, signed all paperwork & were pre-qualified on the 4th (Best Bday gift Ever!?), we close on the 19th. This is my first house, in fact, (having never done so before because of my young marriage age and the kid’s medical health issues upon birth) yesterday I registered at Target! I really just wanted to use the gun, it made me feel powerful and I scanned tons of kitchen stuff, readers you would be proud!
The next two weeks may be a bit of a blur and rush, but rest assure that I will keep up the posting the best I can!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Waffle House

So it's been a while, and trust me readers its with good reason & soon I will tell you about my HUGE birthday present that has taken all my blogging time, but for now I hope this is some JWT filler.
What I love about blogs is that every now and then you get to connect and share something really personal. Along the way, I can't imagine how that does not unfold, the sharing of secrets and the entree to the blogger's life outside of their topic. I thought I would share why my end date will be Dec. 25, 2010, a few days shy of a full calendar year since I was kinda sparse this week on the postings.
I like traditions, and growing up in a family that changed it's compositions almost every other year, I can not say that I have any long standing family traditions. My immediate family tree would look like a spider's nest. The hubs was kind enough to let me go crazy attempting to create and instill holiday traditions and such, but our family composition moved around a bit too. This last holiday season was the first that was only hubs, kid & I that we have ever had. With that kinda of movement, you adjust and make little changes, and some of those traditions endure the brunt of it.
The only constant thing that I can say has happened in my life each year since I was 12 years old was that I had Xmas dinner at Waffle House. Don't judge, Waffle House is a magical place. There solely to meet your needs during times when no one else is there for you, like holidays and 4am hungerstrikes. My mom was a nurse, and she genuinely liked working the holiday shifts, but that meant that our dinner for Xmas was going to be Waffle House. Luckily, I was a little punk kid that thought it was at first a testament to the anti-establishment of the commercial holiday season, that later it was a smooth transition into the time I just genuinely grew to enjoy having this little tradition with my mom.
One year, I noticed that on the holiday menu that the painted Santa holding the specials actually had 6 fingers (this is a national menu), and my Mom and I got a free Xmas dinner that year. It is one of the truly golden memories I have of us.
I know some people don't get it, or that it's met with a guffaw or confused look. It is hard to explain just what it means to me, like the excitement when I know we are driving over is something comparable to those kids in the Disney commercials. People have shared our Waffle House Xmas dinners with us and I puff up like a proud momma (BTW, my mother would not let me use that word, it is simply to best describe my WH pride). There are great things about Waffle House to behold and credit.
They have their own language. I get the chicken sandwich, no hash, no garden (that means no veggies on my sandwich). And I know you all have your own way to order the hash browns. For those of you that are not familiar with Waffle House's hash brown breakdown, this is what you order; "scattered" (spread on the grill), "smothered" (with onions), "covered" (with cheese), "chunked" (with diced ham), "diced" (with diced tomatoes), "peppered" (with jalapeño peppers), "capped" (with mushrooms), "topped" (with chili) and "all the way" (with all available toppings). Recently, the option of "country" had been added for hash browns with sausage gravy on them.
The people are colorful and friendly, especially on Xmas, when I imagine they would rather not be there and have to be because of people like me and the medical community everywhere. And we appreciate it! One year, my mom and I brought little wrapped gifts when we went because she did not have to work that year and I think she felt it was somehow less permissible to go if you did not have a reason. Anyway, I think it tickled the waitstaff, and so one of the ladies went behind the jukebox, flipped some switch and we played free music on the WH jukebox the rest of the evening. Speaking of jukeboxes, Waffle House has probably over 20 songs that are just songs about the Waffle House on each jukebox, I think that is incredible. One of them is by Elvis.
I think it is also one thing for this to my a mom and me thing, and then for it to evolve into my hubs' and kid's life, and that they seem to get excited about it too. Or that after my mom passed, that it was still embraced as "our" family tradition. Two years ago, we were lucky enough to have two people stay with us for the holidays and when we went to WH, the Liberian Lovely surprised us with Crackers. We spent the rest of the dinner wearing colorful paper crowns on our heads while we ate, and I snapped a picture and it is one of my favorite family photos.
Families change, people come in and out of our lives. Words like "family, friends, tradition, and home" become skewed and modified, and while that is something I celebrate in my life, it can leave one without a sense of foundation. Where is that one constant to hold onto & remind you who you are? I don't care how odd it sounds, on Xmas day, Waffle House will always feel like home for me.

This is why I will be eating out on 12/25/10 at a Waffle House near you.

Monday, February 1, 2010

My First Guest Blogger!!

Hi, this is Christina from Down and Out Chic and a little birdie told me that someone special is having a birthday really soon and that her one wish is to receive a handy new apron! Because I like to feel useful and because you rarely find me without an opinion, I compiled a little list to help the shopper of aforementioned apron in his quest to find the perfect one. Now, when it comes to aprons there are a bazillion options: cotton, linen, canvas, oil cloth, half, full, with pockets, sans pocket, etc. etc. You get my point. I'm not a huge fan of oilcloth, probably because I don't cook (that's what B's for) but also because I like the comfort of a softer fabric. Below are a few option, both modern and vintage styles to help you get your cook on.

vintage 1930's or 40's cotton apron by plundered $18
momma dorkas by i am dorkas $75
apron vintage style union jack via my gift street £16.50
cafe apron by PataPri $60

Apron with every beat of my heart by Sunshine Designs $28.50
Buttons and Branches half apron via Anthropologie $28
Extra Ingredient Apron via Anthropologie $38
Dahnya Hostess Apron in Lime Damask by Bella Style Boutique $29.95

Dwell Studio aprons via All Modern $44
My personal apron is from Anthropologie and although it will spend way more time hanging on the wall then it will ever spend wrapped around my body, I'm positive that if I ever do have to pick up the spatula, I'll be doing so in style (which will hopefully deter from the meal).
If you're in the market for an apron, I happen to be hosting an apron giveaway on Feb. 26th from Sunshine Designs. Hope to see you there!

Mature Mac n' Cheese

It seems to be that on Sundays I make a daring feat of culinary trials. This Sunday readers, I made macaroni and cheese. The first person I told this to remarked, “the Blue Box”? Then after the next several people asked he same, exact questions, I started to throw in what is the signifier of this mac n’ cheese to me, it was “mature.” As in, “No, I made a mature macaroni and cheese.”
Readers, the words I would use to describe this treat are those that I would to define a hearty wine. “Robust, nutty, aged, etc” and a little pricey. I bought 3 blocks (20oz) of Vermont White Sharp Cheddar and 8oz of Gruyere. I got potato bread to cut up and cook for the bread crust topping, and I already had nutmeg, but had to buy Cheyenne red pepper.
I thought the finished product, though not the type of momma’s home cooking mac n’ cheese casserole, was still very comforting, just not in a gorge-yourself-until-you-don’t-feel-the-pain type of way. Which seems to be a strong point of this particular dish. I really like the bread on top and how it has a very crunchy texture to something as soft as macaroni and cheese.
I also want to give a very confusing for me shout-out to my cook book, which was Martha Stewart, yes that old Mistress of the Macabre had VERY easy to follow directions that were literally the most helpful ones I have used to make any dish ever. Or at the very least, it was written in a way where Readers, I did not get overwhelmed one time!

Magic Dinner

I wish I could say this would be a monthly posting, but it's presumptuous and and pretty uneven, but I love having dinner with the Magic Chef & Pink Haired Professor. Even if this one revolved around installation of appliances, I think it was a swell time for all. Who does not like to be heckled by the peanut gallery when on a kitchen floor sideways with vice gripes?
The Magic Chef made a Thxgiving dinner for us... or for the hubs really. Whew, I find myself at a loss for words... I don't really know how to describe all the food and in no way do I want to not explain it's magical qualities!
There this turkey, which besides stuff with onions, had unicorns prancing majestically inside.
There were asparagus which did not just make your urine smell better, but made capable of passing drug tests for the rest of your life!
There were cranberries of the most brilliant color that made the Ocean Spray guys quit their jobs and have to be forced to hustle on the streets of Oregon (have you ever seen where the growers for Ocean Spray live, it surprised me, NJ cranberries?).
My heart skipped a little beat when I saw the rivers and streams of butter running through my mashed potatoes. The only way they could have made me any happier was if they made my boobs grow bigger... wait, a minute, I think they did! A post-thanksgiving miracle.
There is no longer any denying the name of Magic Chef, the food is just simply that.
There was even 3 minute brownie (birthday) cake heaven, which was magical because the Pink Haired Professor is now gluten-free which magically means more for me!

This also happens to be the same shirt I wore for last birthday meal at their house. Good times!