Thursday, August 28, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Subject Assignment #1
I had a blankie and a security pillow. I still have a piece (literally, a tiny little piece) of the blankie. The pillow on the other hand, well I have it still. And for good reason. Thats it right there in the picture.
When I was little I would sleep on it and pull at the little feathers that would sometimes poke through at night when I was scared. I knew everything would be all right.
Sometimes I would put it on my Moms lap and lay there with her when I was sad. She would stroke my hair and everything would be all right.
When my mom was sick I would hug it at night and cry. I thought everything would be all right.
My mom didn't beat the cancer that she fought so hard against, and for a moment I thought nothing would ever be all right. I was questioning a lot of things at that time.
I would lay with that pillow at night, or in the morning, or whenever I needed to, and every once in a while I would notice it smelled like her. Things were not all right, but they were ok.
Then something happened. Our dog got a hold of the pillow, and chewed a hole right in the middle of it. I was devastated. It may sound ridiculous to some, but I was a sixteen year old girl devastated at the loss of her "blankie" that was for her, a pillow. Most probably didn't get it.
One person did...my dad. He took the pillow, found some thread and a needle and got to work. I laugh at it now. He is most definitely not a sewer. He grabbed the edges of the hole the dog had created, gathered them in a wad and ran the needle back and forth and sideways and however he could to close up the hole. It was/is not pretty. It doesn't matter though. In that moment, he was the dad, the mom, the comforter, the fixer, the everything. The man, that for sixteen years had just been my dad become both parents at that moment. I knew then that everything was going to be all right. It would never be ok that she was gone, but I knew at that moment, that we would make it.
We did..And some days, even though it has been nearly 16 years are much much harder than others. Some days I need the pillow, or the thought of it rather, and what it represents. I don't hold it for comfort anymore, but I will always have it near me.
Since that day, the pillow has had the case replaced twice (you can still feel that ball on the actual cover that dad fixed), it has moved four times (one out of state). It has endured many more memories.
My Dad and I have had a few downs, but mostly ups. He is an amazing man and father. I don't need that moment like that to see it now, but I guess I did then.
I don't have to sleep with that pillow every night anymore, but I know its there when I want it. It sounds odd to most that a 31 year old still has a pillow that brought her comfort as a child, but for me, its so much more than that.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Thanks to Mamas Losin It for a good laugh! Try it out yourself. Its quite fun.
Really...how do you accomplish this hairdo?
Sadly, my hair would really look like this if it weren't for lots product and time. Florida humidity is not a friend to my hair
Lots of Aqua Net
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
If you recall from the Dutch Baby post, I purchased a cast iron skillet just to make the dutch baby. This is a no no in Alton land, kitchen items should. not. be. uni-taskers. It seems the skillet has my Marcia Brady like conscience and did not want to break any rules. I must, simply must, find another use for it. Well my friends, the Apple Pandowdy/Skillet Apple Pie stepped in and saved the day. The pandowdy is much like an apple pie, with no bottom crust that is prepared, and bake in your skillet. Your OVEN-SAFE skillet.
I followed a Cooks Illustrated recipe (posted below). It was quite yummy and the crust. My oh my the crust. Now THIS one, I fell off the chair for. I will be using this crust over and over again.
Ill break it down in pictures first....
The apple slices caramelizing in the skillet. (Black Stovetop + Black Skillet + Bad Lighting + Bad picture taking = a picture that looks like apples sitting on top of the stove)
The top crust. Cut once down and twice across the top.
This guy....To be fair, if Alton is reading, this was a gift AND you COULD use it for potatoes. AND it peels and cores, OR peels, cores and slices. Those are two different options. I have found a loop hole here. Either way, its magical. My mother-in-law bought me this for my birthday one year. The apple-peeler-corer-slicer makes quick work of getting those apples ready for the pie.
My Grandma Laura can take an apple and peel it so that their is just one long peel when she is done. Me, not so much.
see the pandowdy baking in the oven.
The finished product with ice cream. I think this picture proves I need new dishes.
The partially eaten pandowdy....
Here is the recipe. ENJOY!
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour, plus more for dusting work surface
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening , chilled
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter , cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3–4 tablespoons ice water
1/2 cup apple cider
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter unsalted butter
2 1/2 pounds sweet apples (like Golden Delicious) and tart apples(like Cortland or Empire) (about 5 medium apples), peeled, cored, halved, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
1 egg white , lightly beaten 2 teaspoons sugar
1. FOR THE CRUST: Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in food processor until combined. Add shortening and process until mixture has texture of coarse sand. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture and process until mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse crumbs, bits should be no larger than the size of a pea. Transfer mixture to medium bowl.
2. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons ice water over mixture. With blade of rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix. Press down on dough with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together, adding up to 1 tablespoon more ice water if dough does not come together. Turn dough out onto sheet of plastic wrap and flatten into 4-inch disk. Wrap dough and refrigerate 30 minutes, or up to 2 days, before rolling out.
3. FOR THE FILLING: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees. Whisk cider, syrup, lemon juice, cornstarch, and cinnamon (if using) together in medium bowl until smooth. Heat butter in 12-inch heatproof skillet over medium-high heat. When foaming subsides, add apples and cook, stirring 2 or 3 times until apples begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes. (Do not fully cook apples.) Remove pan from heat, add cider mixture, and gently stir until apples are well coated. Set aside to cool slightly.
4. TO ASSEMBLE AND BAKE: Roll out dough on lightly floured work surface to 11-inch circle. Place over apple filling in skillet. Brush dough with egg white and sprinkle with sugar. With sharp knife, gently cut dough into 6 pieces by making 1 vertical cut followed by 2 evenly spaced horizontal cuts. Bake until apples are tender and crust is a deep golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes; serve.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
If you saw this post on Coq Au Vin, you got a glimpse of one of the members of the family. The Dutch Oven. Her name is Betty. I'll save how some of the items in my kitchen get their name for another day. She was the only thing I asked for for my birthday. (I lead an extremely crazy life).
The reason I post this is because when most of us think of glorious enameled cast iron dutch ovens, we think of Le Crueset. And at least for me, the next thought is Holy Lots of Money for enamel coated cast iron. I still really really wanted one, but at $230.00 I debated on asking for it. The truth is, Jim probably would have bought it for me, but I would have thought about what we could have spent that money on EVERY time I used it.
That is where Cooks Illustrated magazine (the magazine I could not live without - again, I tell you - crazy life) once again saved the day. My birthday is in Feb, and in the Jan/Feb 2008 issue was a review on dutch ovens. Le Crueset was their favorite, but they also tested and recommended two much lower price models as an alternative to the Le Crueset. The brands tested and recommended were Tramontina (6.5quarts) and Lodge Logic (6 quarts). At 39.99 and 49.99 respectively, both were much more budget friendly. I would not question the quality of the Le Crueset and think its a beautiful (really, I do) and the Le Crueset is 7 1/4 quarts at $230.00, however, I do think there are times when high price doesn't always mean better. I went with the Lodge Logic, because the only place I could find Tramontina was Wal Mart and EVERY store I went to/called/searched online for was out of the 6.5 quart. I love my Lodge Logic and I have never had an issue with its size of 6 quarts.
So, if you have been wanting a dutch oven (if my brother or any other guy is reading this, GROW UP), but didn't want to shell out $200.00 give one of these two brands a try.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
I want to thank Emily for this one. She showed us how on her blog not too long ago. This was fun and easy to do. She is in the apron business now, and can create an apron like this for you. If you want to get snazzy, she can do that too. Take a look. I am tempted to have one of these to match every outfit.
Cooking and cleaning are much more fun in a cute apron!
So, I set off to create Coq Au Vin. I used Alton Brown's recipe, and set off to clear the shelves at Publix of all the pinot noir they had.
It takes two days because you do most of the prep work a day ahead and let the partially cooked chicken set in more wine than most people consume in a year overnight.
So gather your ingredients. Here is part of the team. I only allowed one bottle of wine in the picture. And by the way...Rachel Ray is right. Tomato Paste in a tube is AMAZING. I can't say its yumm-o, because I didn't eat it, however, it is easy to work with and stores for a gazillion years in the frig. And by gazillion, I mean indefinitely, which is what the package indicates. So, its great to have on hand for recipes like this that only require 2 Tablespoons. You don't waste it.
The flour coated chicken waits its turn:
The pearl onions brown up in the grease left from frying up the bacon. This part smelled divine.
The dutch oven waits patiently.
So, after the prep, you place all the ingredients (except the pearl onions, mushrooms, and bacon) in dutch oven and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.
Then you cook it for about 2 1/2 hours.
What was the final verdict:
Its a mixed review, and here is why.
My husband and I both like the flavor. I was really nervous at the amount of red wine you used, but there was no winey (I like to make up words) flavor at all. So, that was great.
The chicken was moist and there were no dry portions. Jim even like the dark meat.
I liked that it easily pulled from the bone (Jim usually has to remove chicken from the bone for me on the rare occasion we have it, and I went into making this recipe with that in mind).
My "issue" was that it was not this amazing, knock your socks off dish that I was expecting. For all the work and prep, I was expecting more. I want to take a bite and fall off my chair.
I think I will work with the ingredients and try something like this again, but I was a little disappointed in the end.
Have you ever had this happen to you? High high hopes that fell short when cooking or baking?
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
In the meantime, here is the latest project. A fun tote bag. Is it wrong that I live 15 minutes from the ocean and would pick sewing over going to the beach on the weekend?
See you soon!