Saturday, November 29, 2008

i'll keep this short...

You like pictures, don't you?
Lazy-Caitlyn just now uploaded a whole bunch of pictures from recent events (Halloween through Thanksgiving,) enjoy!

Abby had the girls over for a rather ghoulish Halloween dinner party. Such fun! She even enlisted her 17 year old sister and her friend to dress up in French maid outfits to serve us.
This was from Caleb's first trip back to the hospital. I'm happy to report, he spent Thanksgiving at home and that made us very very thankful!
I taught my friend Tracie how to knit on our lunchbreak one day.
Happy Thanksgiving! I'm very sad to inform you we didn't have time to make our Tofurkey. We'll have to save it for Christmas. Here is my fall squash gratin. It was OK, I was not blown away by it. It contains roasted acorn squash, butternut squash, and a gruyere sauce. This was just one case when I thought the parts were much better than the whole. Oh well, everyone else was kind about it.

Now this was good... Brandon made crab macaroni and cheese with white truffle oil. Yes, the person who invented this recipe is my best friend. It's everything I love in one pan!!! Plus B found these really cool pasta trumpets. I'm a fan! (Just in case you weren't jealous of me before... I've got a man who can cook!)
Drumroll please...... PECAN PIE! Since my aunt, uncle, and beautiful cousin weren't able to join us for the holiday, I had to make my aunt's pecan pie. My aunt's recipe calls for substituting the 2T of vanilla for bourbon. And boy oh boy is it good! We actually used whiskey, George Dickel to be exact, it seemed appropriate. It's from the town where my aunt, uncle, and cousin live.
It was a very happy Thanksgiving. It included meals at my house, at Brandon's, and the traditional "after-party" at Andrea and Aaron's. Although this year no one camped out at Best Buy, since a few people had to work yesterday. Brandon and I also made the traditional Sonic run. He has been eating at Sonic on Thanksgiving for about 10 years.
It was a very good day!
Yesterday, I hung out here at the house I'm housesitting at and cooked. (How sad is it this, when Margaret asked me to housesit, she said: "you can cook all you want while you're here!" People know me all too well.) Yesterday I went and bought some veggies and made an "eat your vegetables" dinner for Brandon and me. We had to do something to make retribution for the massive amounts of saturated fat the day before, plus the fast resumed after our day of gluttony!
I made sauteed spinach with garlic and lemon, green beans cabernet with onions, and O'Brien's roasted potatoes, these are the cubed and roasted sweet and white potatoes they serve at Cafe Eclectic. Then for dessert, I probably negated it all! But here's a recipe for what I made. It's a pecan turtle bar. It's pretty easy to make it fasting friendly by substituting the butter. It tastes a whole lot like a heath bar!
Pecan Turtle Bar- From: Well Seasoned (The Les Passees cookbook from 1997, B got it for free at the Library book sale.) This recipe is from Mrs. Dorsey
Mathis Jr. (Margaret Jones)

2 Cups flour
2 1/3 sticks butter divided
1 1/2 Cups light brown sugar, firmly packed, divided
1 Cup pecan halves
1 Cup chocolate morsels

Combine flour, 1 stick of butter, and 1 cup brown sugar. This is easily
done in a food processor. Pat into a 9x13- inch aluminum pan. Cover with pecans.
Combine remaining butter and brown sugar in a heavy saucepan. Boil 1 full
minute. Pour over pecans. Bake 18-20 minutes at 350 degrees, until bubbly and
brown. remove from oven and scatter with chocolate morsels. Swirl slightly with
a knife. Cool and cut into bars or squares. Makes 3-4 dozen.
Well, I guess I didn't do a great job of keeping it short! Talk to you soon. PS- I apologize for the squished together paragraphs, I keep trying to space them out but blogger just squishes them back together.... sorry if this post is difficult to read.

Monday, November 24, 2008


So, many of my friends have been circulating this e-mail with a Christmas quiz. I mean everyone's doing it! I had almost 19 of them in my inbox this morning! I thought it'd be more fun to post it here. Enjoy... and feel free to copy it and answer the questions on your blog. I love to hear this sort of thing.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? paper- I usually have a theme to my wrapping... it's a very big deal for me to choose my signature motif each year.
2. Real tree or artificial? Fake ones are sad, but I hate the idea of cutting down ANOTHER tree for a pretty smell... one year my family bought a tree with the roots still on it and we planted it after the fact.
3. When do you put up the tree? I still live with the parents, so they decorate after Thanksgiving.
4. When do you take the tree down? My parents take it down before the stroke of midnight on Christmas... I'm Orthodox though, the party just started on Dec. 25. I'll be taking MINE down 12 days later.
5. Do you like eggnog? Yes, but I really love my Mudder's boiled custard. Pronounced "bowled custard." Mmmmmm!
6. Favorite gift received as a child? Probably my Samantha American Girl doll.
7. Do you have a Nativity scene? My parents have one, for some reason it's Native American, I honestly don't understand it!
8. Hardest person to buy for? My MOTHER! And maybe Abby, although she's taken to just sending me e-mails of the things she wants, it does make things easier.
9. Easiest person to buy for? Brandon, he's very outspoken about his interests. It makes things easy!
10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I don't know... maybe the fact that SOMEONE stole the rosemary bush I won last year at Andrea and Aaron's dirty Santa!
11. Email or Christmas cards? Cards, cards, cards! (Remember what I said about cutting down the trees, I make exceptions!) I love to pick out cards or make them... just another opportunity to express my sense of style!
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? EASY! A Christmas Story... it's classic. Although I really do love Elf!
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Ugh, I don't want to talk about it! The answer is: when I have the money!!!
14.Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? My mom ALWAYS makes a cheese strata for breakfast on Christmas morning. I eat that along with my stocking candy... healthy healthy!
17. Favorite Christmas song? "All I want for Christmas is You" by Mariah Cary... I'm not kidding. It was my phone's ringtone a few years ago. Brandon HATES it!
18. Travel for Christmas or stay at home? Stay home! All the Grandparents come to us. Such fun!
19. How many Christmas parties will you attend? I don't know. I already know of two, and a wrapping party. We shall see!
20. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? No. sorry.
21 . Angel on the tree top or a star? I think I'd have a star. The Angel would clash with all of the piggie ornaments I already own! And for the record, I do not like the theme tree! (My mom has an angels and harps tree, she's a harpist, I just don't like it!)
22. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? With my dad's family on Christmas eve night, and then with our immediate family on Christmas morning.
23 . Most annoying thing about this time of year? Two words: Shopping Mall!
24 . What I love most about Christmas? Um, food. Duh! But I also really love the "cozy." Everything about the holiday is cozy... I love the cozy!
25. What do you want for Christmas this year? My own apartment... But in reality, I would love to get a food mill, like the French ladies use.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

repeat after me... "it's tofurkey time!"

Yes, we did it. It was a slight impulse buy, but Brandon and I bought a Tofurkey. I'm very curious about what to think. It's stuffed with a rice stuffing and looks an awful lot like a turkey breast. To be honest, I was never a huge turkey fan, so we shall see if the tofu breed excites me any more.
I absolutely LOVE Thanksgiving. I cannot think of a single aspect I do not love. I love the food (obviously) I love the smells, I love getting dressed up to eat with my own family, I love the Macy's parade, I love the way it looks when the table is decked out in candles and the food is piled high on everyone's plates, I love the way our yard looks from the kitchen windows. Perfect.
Last night we discussed what the traditional foods are in my family. We have the same stuff most years, but some years I like to try making something extra gourmet. I'm not sure what I'll make this year. I was thinking a fall squash gratin would be a good idea but I'm not sure yet.
The traditional family menu:
  • Turkey, Honeybaked Ham, and sometimes even venison. (No wonder I became a vegetarian.)

  • Sweet potatoes, in some form or fashion. Sometimes they've been baked with marsh-a-rellows (a Clare word meaning marshmallow.) My aunt makes them inside orange cups.

  • GLORIOUS Green bean casserole. I love the stuff! I despise cream of mushroom soup, but can stomach it in this instance.

  • Yeast rolls. Sometimes homemade, sometimes Sister Schubert's. And some years we have my mom's quick rolls, they're delish too.

  • Dressing. NO STUFFING! That's a disgrace. We like our stuffing cornbread style with apples, celery, and onions... to name a few of the fantastic ingredients. My mom makes cornbread all the time and for dressing purposes she freezes bits of day old cornbread throughout the year.

  • Cranberry sauce. Despite my many efforts to make a cranberry chutney or some sort of gourmet version, my mom likes the stuff in the can, she loves the ease of pre marked slices. :~) And don't tell anyone, but I don't hate it!

  • Pickles. We always have some sort of sweet pickle. I have no idea why.

  • Last year mom made macaroni and cheese and devilled eggs for Brandon and me, since there's a small break in the fast for American Orthodox Christians on Thanksgiving. Last year we had a brie with honey and walnuts appetizer to start the cheese fest. Sadly, the overeating after having eaten no dairy for a week or so made me sick last year. I promise I'll pace myself this year!

  • My mom makes ambrosia... ew.

  • PIE- I should write a post on the pie. My mom makes pumpkin, my aunt makes a (to die for) bourbon pecan pie, and sometimes if I'm nice mom also makes chocolate chip. If we go to my dad's family we have lemon icebox pie. YUM!

So, what traditions does your family have? I love this sort of thing. A few years ago I had a Thanksgiving potluck the week before Thanksgiving. It was so much fun. I supplied the Turkey and everyone brought sides and desserts. It was such a fun time to spend with friends and get to learn what their families eat.

Tell me, what're you eating next Thursday?

P.S. I apologize if every post for the next few weeks mentions Thanksgiving... I just love it so much!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

two days in a row?!... well blow me down!

I've never quite understood that expression. "Well, blow me down!" It's one of those expressions my mom uses. I think it means "I'm so surprised that the slightest gust of wind would make me fall over." I think that's what it means.

Well contain your excitement, I'm here to post a second day in a row!

Lets talk Christmas. It's coming upon me FAST! I now have 4 presents, and another one figured out, I just need the money to order it. I'm doing some crocheting this year. I'm making my little sister a pancho... Did I already tell you this? It's going to be cream colored and have brown and pink ribbons woven through it. I think it'll be cute. I know what you're thinking, panchos are kind of over, but I think if you're 9 years old it's ok.

Speaking of the hook, I can't wait to show you what I've made. I have already completed a scarf for Clare out of the softest chenille yarn, and a matching (albeit tiny) version for her Bitty Baby doll, Ginger. I should take a picture for you!

I planned on completing all of the Christmas shopping by this Saturday, the beginning of the Nativity fast, but we see how well that worked out! I plan to at least have a running list of what to buy for whom by then, but the funds that are necessary for shopping are not present in my bank account!

Just in case you need a refresher, the Nativity Fast is the fast we observe leading up to the Nativity of our Lord. It starts on November 15, and ends on Christmas. It's a little hard to get used to. I mean, everyone else around is eating fudge and going to Christmas parties, while we're eating lentil soup and going to church. [Wow, don't I do a great job at complaining?]

What I meant was this: we prepare for the Lord's birth in the 40 days before. And honestly as far as our fasts go, this is the most relaxed one. We celebrate for 12 days afterward, and boy do we celebrate. Last year was my first Orthodox Christmas, so it was a little weird. Whereas most of our protestant friends are packing up the tree by December 26 we are just starting to celebrate. I loved all of the extra services during the fast last year, the fasting and prayer makes the celebration all the more wonderful.

Nothing particularly culinary has happened since yesterday, sadly I've had no time to cook. Since yesterday was a regular fasting day, as well as tomorrow, and since the long fast begins on Saturday I'm eating all the yummy things I know I'll miss. Tonight OCF is going out to eat at Huey's. Bring on the cheese!!!

My little brother is having surgery tomorrow, we thought it would be today but of course nothing moves too fast in a hospital. His sprits are at an all time low, please continue to pray for him.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

which side of the hump (day) are you on?

Isn't Wednesday an interesting day? Even at 8:00 am I feel myself hopping on my sled and starting to slide down the other side of the work-week hill. If you think about it's a really ridiculous thought. My week isn't anywhere near being over on Wednesday at 8:00 am, but I guess the psychological release of looking at it that way helps me cope. Today I need all the coping mechanisms I can muster, this rain is making me feel blah.

Well this weekend was a blur, and it's turned into a blurry week. Friday we made the soup I mentioned. It was good, I changed it up a bit, but nothing worth recounting here. On Saturday... what did I do on Saturday? Ah yes I kind of did nothing. It was sort of blissful, sort of boring. I made (frozen, shame on me) spanikopita and a lovely brie for little Gabriel and Zoe's baptisms on Saturday night.

The brie deserves a paragraph to itself. I wanted to do something different. I thought about the ever popular brie with honey and walnuts and decided to do something different. I caramelized some onion, and added some roasted red peppers, garlic and rosemary. I piled the jewel toned mush on top of a warm wheel of brie. It was pretty good if I do say so myself... I think I'm allowed to like what I cooked, right? (Brandon gets angry at me for my constant negativity about my own food, it's hard for me to like what I cook.)

Sunday was another blur, we had church followed by a wedding shower for Gigi, followed by a very small nap, followed by young adults.

My brother is still in the hospital, he has a pleural effusion, a condition where fluid is gathering between his lungs and his chest wall. They're thinking he may have to have surgery to correct the problem, since a chest tube that was in his chest over the weekend did not completely correct the issue. He is very depressed right now. Please continue to pray for him.

I'll talk to you soon.

Friday, November 07, 2008

it's friday... thank you!

After a long and pretty eventful week it's Friday. Caleb is still in the hospital, he has a tube connected to his chest draining the excess fluid. It's painful, and quite frankly this sucks for him. He's mad, and rightly so. Please pray for him.

Pray for my wonderful parents as well. They've been putting in very long days and taking turns sleeping on a hideous vinyl sofa-like contraption. Tonight is dad's night to come home. This sucks for them too. My sweet sister has been coming home, at night too. She has been at the hospital continuously. This is tough for her too. She doesn't complain, but I have a feeling she would rather play with her best friend Ashton.

Tonight I'm taking Clare home with me after work. (Caleb's hospital is next door to my office.) I just reserved Kit Kidridge an American Girl at the RedBox for her. I've never used the RedBox before, but the deal is: $1.00 per day rentals you pick up from kiosks at various locations such as Wal-Marts and drugstores. How great is that? So we shall see how many days I end up keeping them. I haven't always been the best renter. (oops) I'll give you a full report on our RedBox experience.

I'm planning on cooking a white bean soup with escarole served along with some baked polenta. It should be pretty good. I glanced at a recipe, but I'm not planning on using it. I hate to use a recipe for a soup, soup is simple people! I gleaned inspiration for the soup, but I can guarantee Caitlyn's version will have a whole lot more soul!

I AM planning on using a recipe for some vegan gingerbread cookies tonight! I've been craving them lately and I love to dip a spicy, sweet, crisp gingerbread cookie into black coffee. Wow, my mouth is currently watering. I cannot wait for tonight!!!

Speaking of coffee. I just found Ruta Maya coffee at Costco. If you're a Costco person check this stuff out. It's the kind of coffee served at my beloved Cafe Eclectic. It's amazing. I liked it more than Starbucks coffee even when I worked there. (I still love my Bux, but I really like this coffee a whole lot!) Plus the costco bag is a steal compared to buying the whole beans at Cafe Eclectic. Mmmmmmmm.

New hobby alert! Caitlyn has given up the two needles for the hook. Wow, that sounds wierd. What I meant to say was, I have taken up crocheting! I love knitting, but it makes noise. I like to take my work with me to social settings, young adults group, etc. but I hate to disturb others. Crocheting is easier for me, and the results are more consistent. (For me that is, some people are awesome knitters, and I do not plan to abandon the art form forever, we're just taking a break from one another.) My mom taught me to crochet at the hospital the other night and I've almost completed a scarf for my sister. I love having something to do with my hands.

Oh, here's my theory about why I took up crocheting: Knitting has become a very hipster thing to do. And you know me, I like to think I'm unique, so being a hipster just won't do. Crochet is much more counter-culture, hehehe. That's right I just called a grandma hobby "counter-culture." Whatever... I like to think I'm on the cutting edge!

Bon weekend!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Please pray for my brother Caleb. He has developed pneumonia because of his surgery. He's currently in the hospital, and should be able to come home soon.

I'll keep you updated.