Friday, May 11, 2007

You Decide...

Yesterday was clear and sunny in the high 80's. I spent my lunch reading on a bench around the lake. I watched baby turtles play in the water and one sunning themselves.

Geese floated nearby.

Today is humid and rainy with occasional thunderstorms. Today's lunch was spent at a restaurant with my coworkers, celebrating the departure of our IT guy, sending him off in style. Great location, comfortable seats and 3 bottles of wine between 4 of us. (4 glasses each!)
Which one was better? I dunno. But at least the lake didn't give me a headache...

P&P

The end is near my friends...

The end of school, that is. After what seems like an eternity of vacation, we finally went back last night. And in culinary school, nothing says, "You're almost done" than a class dedicated solely to your final project.

P&P-or "Performance & Presentation" is my Thursday night class. There are no tests. The homework is testing recipes and finding new ones. The grade is based on attendance, teamwork and performance. It's a dream come true.

For our final project, we host a dinner in which our family and friends come to eat the food we've prepared. We're in full production in the kitchen while they dine across the hall. It's a chance for us to show off what we've learned, to show our loved ones where we've spent all of our time, and to share our talents and our love of food.

I don't want to give away a few things on here because 4 of the people who will be coming read this blog. But I can say we have some great ideas...

Last night we tested the first round of entrees. We kept 2 of the 5 and decided to test another beef option. We chose to keep:

1. Pan Seared Snapper with Avocado, Grapefruit and Papaya over greens. I think we're going to serve it with cous cous.

2. Eggplant Gratin-for my Lashetta (for real b/c it's a veggie dish). Paper thin eggplant layered with fresh mozzarella, pesto and tomatoes baked to gooey perfection. It is, actually, out of this world.

Next week we test soups.
Really, the best part for me is that there no real "theme". We're cooking as though we're in a restaurant or throwing a party. We're not cooking "French" or "American Regional". It's whatever we like and that's that. And what's it's doing is showing us all of the things we've learned, and proving that we know our stuff.

It's so fun to be a senior!!!

Mother's Day

Mother's Day is this weekend and it leaves me wondering one thing: Why does everyone go to brunch?

For many years my entire family trekked to New York to spend the day with my Nana, all of my aunts and uncles and my cousins. We'd get dressed up like we were going to church and cram into a crowded dining room at the Elks Club. (My uncle was the caterer)

A quirky old man in a tux would be our host, talking for way too long prior to releasing us to the food. I always imagined that a microphone would drop out of the ceiling, a disco ball would turn, and he'd start singing bad lounge songs.

Luckily, they served Mimosas. It was our only saving grace.

So again, I ask the question: Why brunch? Is it that it's a fancy way to eat (most people's) favorite meal of the day and also throwing in goodies like cake and prime rib?

Or is it that your mother's are too annoying to spend the entire day with, so you cram 2 meals into 1, hoping that you'll trick her into thinking you spent more time with her than you did...

(I haven't gotten my Mom to fall for that one yet...)

My theory is this-and I think it's pretty close to reality-People do not often treat themselves to a full breakfast; Eggs, pancakes, waffles (fancy ones at that), muffins, bagels, fruit. Instead, they often grab whatever they can on the way to work or in between bus runs and play dates. Being able to take time out of an entire morning to enjoy breakfast has become a luxury.

And all restaurants have to do is jack up the price and honor your mother, and voila! They're raking in the dough.

What are your thoughts? Do you (or have you ever) taken your mother to brunch on Mother's Day? What are you doing with/for your Mom this Sunday?

(I cooked my Mom a special dinner/dessert and gave her flowers.)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Shoemaker

When I was a little girl, I was often found singing or dancing, or choreographing an elaborate stage show that only existed in my head. I'd make lists of guests, plot out where the stage would go, cast friends for important roles and dream about the bundles of perfumey flowers I would get at the end of the performance.

I never did get to see any of these shows to fruition.

One summer I allowed my friend Jessica in on my idea. To my surprise, she was an enthusiastic supporter and decided that she would like to help. Planning began immediately.

In her dark, cold basement playroom, we sat for hours reading story after story trying to determine which one would make the best play. Finally, "The Shoemaker & The Elves" by the Brothers Grimm was the winner.

I've always been enamored with elves and fairies and all things mystical and impish. So a story about tiny elves who sneak into a poor shoemakers shop to help him make shoes was right up my alley.

Reams of clean, white paper quickly filled up with our modified version of the story-a version that had stage notes and prop ques, and our friends as the elves.

Again, my mind wandered, and I was enveloped into a world of costumes, lights, and glamour. I even though we could sell tickets.

Days went by and Jessica and I grew nervous as we built up the courage to ask our parents if we could actually put on our play. Armed only with our ideas and our enthusiasm, we marched our way to our eventual demise.

Both sets of parents were clearly impressed with our hard work and creativity. What parents know, however, is how much money it costs to build a stage and that not many people will pay to see a play put on my elementary school children-especially when it's in their backyard.

So, just as quickly as it began, our dream of becoming famous playwrights and actresses retreated into our little souls, waiting until the day would come when stages cost less money, and when people would come just because...

Thursday 13


Thirteen Ingredients...
Can You Guess What They Make???

1. Ground Beef
2. Onion
3. Garlic
4. Almonds
5. Golden Raisins
6. Roma Tomatoes
7. Serrano Chilies
8. Lime Juice
9. Cumin
10. Cinnamon
11. Ground Cloves
12. Sea Salt
13. Lard



Wednesday, May 09, 2007

New Phone!

Thank you to those of you who've emailed me with phone offerings. I really appreciate that you'd donate your phones to me, and that you took the time to look for them...

I am, however, the proud owner of this little gem:

My father (out of sheer frustration, I believe) bought if for me just hours ago...and I'm happy to report that so far-I've not dropped one call-not even from my bedroom!

8)

Thanks again, Brian, Colette & Dina...you all rock!

I've Learned That...

People are curious and you can't really stop them...

Dust collects at an amazingly fast pace...

I can't be bored...

You never know what kind of impact you've made on people until you leave...

Sometimes people exaggerate and paint a better picture of what's really going to happen than what really does happen...

Lots of things are over-rated, but sleep is not one of them...

Cake makes and excellent snack, and an even better breakfast...

Shower curtains make noise...

Banging on a wall at 2 am only scares a mouse so much...

Apple Juice can really fuck up your life...

No one uses Verizon...

I really love spring...

Wordless Wednesday



Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Begging

This is extremely tacky, but perhaps, it might be helpful to me.

You all know I dropped my cell phone in apple juice, right? Well, I did. And I bought a new one on Ebay and it gets horrible reception.

No. I didn't have the service plan. Nothing ever happened to my phone before. For 3 years.

Whatev. Stop laughing.

As you may know, buying a cell phone without a new contract is OUTRAGEOUSLY expensive....like over $200 in most cases. Yeah.

So...I was wondering...does anyone have an old VERIZON cell phone in good condition that they are not using that they would be willing to donate to me?

(Insert big sunny Maggie Moo smile here)


Pretty Pwease?

Toosdae ?'s

Happy sunny warm day everyone! This is for sure one of those days I would have LOVED to call into work simply so I could sit on my deck and soak up those lemony rays of goodness! Alas, I am stuck in a cube and only have your answers to keep me sane...

(Did I pull on your heart strings enough? No? Well...then just answer the questions because you love me!!!) >8-)

1. What is one thing you consider to be very elegant? Why?

2. If you won a shopping spree, what store would you want it to be from? Is there a specific item you would go for first?

3. What bores you to tears?


1. When a lady wears her hair in a french twist. I think it is a very classic and put together look and in turn, it is very elegant. If she wears diamond stud earrings as an accent, it's taken to a whole other level of elegance in my mind. Sadly, it's a look I do not think I can pull off.

2. At this point I would choose Lowes or Home Depot so I could fix things in my house. I'd first go for landscaping materials. If I had help (or could leave different carts at pit stops and re-load) I'd get fencing and rocks/stones.

3. Math. If I have to read something that explains a complex mathematical procedure, my brain automatically goes into dream mode and all I see on the page is smudges and nonsense. Leave the numbers to someone else, I say!

Monday, May 07, 2007

United?

I don’t profess to know anything about politics-at all. I vote in elections based on summaries of each candidate and an occasional debate if I’m able to catch one. I believe that voting for our leaders is a great privilege, and in turn, a great responsibility that we as Americans have.

In my opinion, if you did not vote, you have no right to complain about the way our country is being run. Until you are ready to stand behind your words and try to make a difference-kindly shut your mouth.

Though I’m registered as an “Independent” I tend to lean more toward Democratic candidates. I don’t know why-it just happens that way. When the person I voted for does not win, I suck it up and support the person who did.

This is my country, and unless I’m willing to protest, lobby and battle for change, while I have the right to say whatever I want-I have no business in saying it.

Where is this coming from, then, if I am not into politics you wonder? It comes from the countless news reports, polls, blog posts, newspaper articles and coffee shop conversations I hear about how President Bush’s popularity is at an all time low, or how “W” is ruining our country into the ground.

He’s our leader people. Regardless of whether or not you like him, he won, pretty much fair and square. Continuously harping on how much people hate him is not going to change that. Constantly harping on the fact that we are STILL at war-and what are we fighting for anyway? does not turn reality into fiction.

All it does is focus on the negative. All it does is allow you to run your mouths so you don’t have to do anything about it. All it does is further divide our nation.

I am in no means professing my love of President Bush. I am, however, saying that we need to either accept that he is our leader, or put on our marching shoes and protest and volunteer until our voices are heard in a more positive way-a way that will harbor change, not negativity.

Manic Monday: Survive

Our will to survive was unsurpassed by any teenagers our age. As we sat huddled together in the dark, hands gripping hammers, tennis rackets and wiffle bats we were ready to defend our 13 year old lives to the death.

The death. Please God, not the death.

Outside, the wind howled and stark, naked trees seemed to creep closer, closer...thunder rolled, our flashlights burnt out.

Somewhere between the loss of power and the first strike of lightening, we gathered ourselves in a corner of the living room, partially blocking the door with the sofa. Two enormous windows flanked us on either side.

Shadows danced to the eerie music of the odd autumn storm. The "crunch, crunch" of the leaves outside told us we were not alone.

A jiggle of the door knob. A bang on the wood.

The doorbell.

The doorbell? Why would a killer ring the doorbell?

Minutes passed. We held our breath. The hammer, cold in my hands.

And then...

The Beatty's walked in the door. They were home early, because of the storm, and heard that we'd lost power.

Still shaking, we untangled ourselves and emerged from the corner, aware of how we looked, but certain that we would have survived.

Babysitting, after all, is not as dangerous as it seems.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

What's Cookin? Pear & Walnut Muffins

...with Butterscotch Sauce!

As promised-here is the recipe for the Pear & Walnut Muffins from this weeks Thursday Thirteen...Don't forget the Butterscotch Sauce!

Pear & Walnut Muffins

Makes 12

2 C. Flour
2 t. Baking Powder
1/2 t. Baking Soda
1 C. Sugar
1/4 t. Salt
1 t. Cinnamon
1 t. Cardamom
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 C. Sour Cream
1 1/2 sticks Unsalted Butter, Melted (12 T.)
3 Canned Pear Halves in fruit juice, drained & Diced
1/2 C. Walnuts, coarsely chopped

Sauce:
1 C. Dark Brown Sugar
1 Stick Unsalted Butter, cut into cubes (8 T.)
4 T. Whipping Cream

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 400. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan or line with muffin cups.
2. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, cinnamon and cardamom together in a large bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, sour cream and melted butter. Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients together with the pears and walnuts and mix until JUST COMBINED.
4. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Bake about 20 minutes until risen and golden brown.
5. For the sauce, combine the sugar and butter in a saucepan and place over low heat until butter has melted and sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally. Do not allow the mixture to boil. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cream. Mix well, keep warm.
6. When the muffins are baked, cool them in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack. Serve warm, drizzled with the sauce.

*Note: Do not over mix the muffin batter-this will cause "tunneling" which are holes throughout the baked produce. Literally mix until just combined.