Wednesday, October 24, 2012

...white wine simmering = my favorite smell

I’ve been meaning to cook this meal and blog about it for awhile now, but it’s been a crazy couple of weeks. I really should be cooking MORE when I’m busy or down in the dumps, because it absolutely boosts my happiness level, and it’s a great distraction.  Anyway! I finally have made this recipe that I’ve been waiting to make for a long time! Another thing I did recently that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, was invest in a few herb plants. I would recommend doing this if you’re into cooking at all – such a time/money saver (plus it smells great)! I just want to throw out there that this is NOT a low fat meal at all…

Almond Crusted Halibut
It says this serves six people, but you can easily cook 4-5 pieces of fish. I don’t think the minced almonds would cover 6 full pieces (I’ve edited this recipe to the way I will continue to make it, but I got the original one off of allrecipes).

-2/3 cup dry white wine (I used a cheapo sauv blanc)
-3 tablespoons cider vinegar
-2 tablespoons minced shallots (I always use green onions instead shallots)
-1 sprig fresh thyme
-1 bay leaf
-2/3 cup heavy cream
-10 tablespoons unsalted butter - chilled, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
-3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
-Salt and pepper to taste
-6 (6 ounce) fillets halibut
-1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
-2/3 cup minced blanched almonds (I couldn't find minced, so I just minced them myself in the blender)
-1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
-1 egg, lightly beaten

1. Make beurre blanc: In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine wine, vinegar, shallots, thyme and bay leaf. Boil until liquid has evaporated. Stir in cream, and boil until liquid is reduced by half; decrease heat to low. Whisk in the 10 tablespoons of butter. Do not allow sauce to simmer, or it may separate.

2. Strain sauce through a fine sieve into a heatproof bowl. Stir in chives, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Keep warm by setting bowl in sink with hot water.

3. Preheat oven on broiler setting. Pat fillets dry, and season with salt and pepper.

4. Heat oil and two tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute halibut fillets for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned, and just cooked through. Transfer to a baking sheet, and cool 5 minutes. In a small bowl, stir together bread crumbs, almonds and 1 tablespoon melted butter. Brush tops of fillets with egg, and spread with almond mixture.

5. Broil fillets 1 to 2 minutes, or until browned (watch closely - every broiler has its own personality!). Place fillets on individual plates, and spoon beurre blanc around it.

I served this on brown rice and we had simple little salads with it. And it was absolutely delicious. I definitely should have let the wine and cream cook longer, because the sauce didn't thicken the way I liked it – but I honestly don’t think you can go wrong with white sauce…unless you try to make it lower fat or something. Bump that. If you’re going to try to eat healthy, make something out of a health food magazine. However, in my opinion, when you make meals like this every once in awhile – just go all out.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

plague already?

It's only October and I'm already battling a disgusting cold. Whhhhhyyyyy? Probably because I've been pretending that my body doesn't need things like sleep, any type of nutrition (Cheetos are not a food group?), large quantities of water....yeah that's probably why. Work hasn't been too stressful lately, so I can't blame that.

All I want when I'm sick is a heating blanket, a Tim Burton movie, and some Vicks. However, when I live with Joan (my mother) I get platters like the one shown below on a regular basis.

Is that not the gosh darn cutest thing you've ever seen? If I wasn't so drippy and disgusting right now, I'd go mug on that lady. Alas, I'm not in good form to be cuddling up to Joan. (my father has also been pretty doting...he brought me tea yesterday. TEA!)

Anyway, I need to get in tip-top shape for this weekend, because I finally get to stay home and attend to the multiple DIY projects I've been meaning to do over the last few months. Figure yourself out, Immune System! I've got stuff to do!

Alright, back to the Nightmare Before Christmas and a very imperative NyQuil coma.

Monday, October 8, 2012

for laura

I think it's because I've really been missing her lately (I miss her all the time), or perhaps, I've been spending too much time watching old, feel-good movies and soaking up the beautiful fall; I really miss my little sister tonight.

Laura deserves an entire post unto herself (multiple eventually), because she's hands down, flat out my best girl in the whole world. Not in a cheesy way - in an incredibly real, every hour of everyday way. Laura is 22 (two and a half years younger than I am) and she was just married this summer. In many ways, she and I are very different. I'm ultra-sensitive to what people think of me, while Laura is constantly self assured and un-phased by the opinions of people that don't TRULY know her. I'm more of traveler/experimenter and Laura is more of a homebody/settler. Laura is self-reliant, calm, resourceful, and INCREDIBLY humble. Even though I'm her big sister, I find myself constantly watching how she handles tough situations and thinking, "Where did she learn that from?" Not this mad-clown of a sister, who can turn into a puddle of mush over gaining a couple pounds or a boy not thinking I'm the bees knees. No Sir. She's usually the one listening to my wounded phone calls that almost always end with something like "Thanks for listening to me unload all that garbage...I'm sorry I just bawled to you for an hour."

Yep, when it came to the world around us, Laura has always (since toddlerism), been willful, strong, and vocal about almost everything.

I have far too many stories of Laura (many funny and MANY that bring tears), however tonight I'm reminded of a fall evening not very many years ago when I had been out with my friends late once again. I came into my parents house and went straight to my room. Quickly opening my computer to scan blogs and Facebook updates, it wasn't until a good 20 minutes rolled by until my mother came into my room and suggested I go talk with Laura. "She seems a little down tonight." After knocking on her door and pushing her for information for about a half hour, Laura finally broke down and said very matter-of-factly, "It's you. I need more time with you. I know that might seem selfish, and I know you're busy...but sometimes I wish you'd slow down and just be here more."

I wanted to shout, "That's not selfish! I love spending time with you! I had no idea!" Instead, I held her and apologized for not noticing that our quality time had been vastly insufficient. My sister gave me something incredibly important that night. She made me realize that our loved ones don't always know they are important to us, and she vulnerably let me know I was important to her. That's probably one of the toughest things to do sometimes.

Anyway, what I wanted to get to (and the reason I'm posting this somewhere you will find), is that you're pretty super, rockin' Laura Marie. You're my favorite.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

...first of many Fall posts

Oh man, I've really been struggling with keeping this thing up. I'm going to officially put a reminder in my calendar to sit down at least twice a week and come up with SOMETHING to record on here (this will hopefully keep me more organized/on top of getting my pictures uploaded and edited....I struggle with that lately).

This time of year is my favorite. There is something about autumn that is so comforting and relaxing to me. It could be that the dwindling down of road trips, weddings, family reunions and such allows my calendar to open up more. Or it could be the fact that with football season getting into full swing (GO RAVENS!) or the baseball playoffs livening up (GO ORIOLES!), people are more likely to stay home and eat chili while cheering on their favorite sports teams. Maybe it's the excitement of Halloween and Thanksgiving soon approaching; I'm not sure.

All I know is that the other afternoon, I came home to my parents doing yard work. My father was cutting down tree branches, while my mother with her gardening gloves raked up huge piles of multicolored leaves. The smell of the sun baking the dried leaves, and the cool air carrying the smell of wheat and alfalfa being combined. It smelled wonderful. It was so nice to pick up a rake and help them.

That night, my sister came to visit. She and I went in for a bonfire, and as we drove into town, the moon was already huge and bright by eight o' clock. Sitting around the fire with our friends in hats and sweaters, taking pulls of red wine and passing it around the circle...I realized how lucky I am. I'm so lucky to have evenings like that, that move so slowly, you actually can absorb and appreciate every moment of it.

I love this season.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

side-tracked, and totally confused

Alright, first I'm going to preface this post with the fact that this will probably not be well organized - or have lots of backed up facts as I go, and also that I'm NOT the healthiest person in the world - nor am I the persona of a great, athletic figure. However, the information is out there, I just can't take the time right now to list every article, study, documentary....what have you, that supports the facts that something super, serious is going on. First, read this:

Read it? Great! what the heck?!

How has our health and nutrition mentality gotten SO SO incredibly messed up? I will give a little information about how I was raised in the 90's, and then mirror it with how I "hope" I feed and raise my children someday down the road, and then look at what seems to be happening with the rest of the country.

Let me just say, I was and AM a junk food kid. I crave french fries, rich cheeses, chocolate, pizza, anything dairy, pasta....whatever it is that is covered in grease or fat, I'm all up on that, buddy. My parents did NOT feed my sister and I organically or focus on raw foods and minerals. They did not feed us as vegetarians. They were NOT rich, and could not afford to have a cook that made everything healthy taste fantastic. My mother and father cooked all of the food we ate. It was not always from scratch, but most of the time we ate a meal that had three different food groups, and didn't make us hyper or sick before we went to bed. We're talking casseroles, leaner meats with rice or noodles, mac and cheese, hamburger based noodle-nonsense, sides of canned green beans or corn, sliced bread with butter.....Midwestern, middle class food. I wouldn't say my parents enforced portion control, but simply put - as little girls, we ate about as much as my mother ate. We had sandwiches at lunch, and if we wanted to eat a bunch of chips we could. If we wanted one ice cream cone at night, that was fine. We were never limited at holidays or special events to the amount of helpings we could have.

That being said, my parents also would say things to my younger sister and I such as, "Didn't you just have an ice cream sandwich a couple of hours ago?" or "I thought we just bought this bag of Cheetos, why is it empty already?" or "I think you've had enough of that, if you're hungry before dinner you can have carrots or an apple." And because my sister and I respected their knowledge, we obeyed. Not rocket science.

I played a lot outside as a child, but not any more than the rest of the kids in my age group at the park or pool. My sister and I were not very active in athletic sports, however we were both in dance classes and dabbled in having fun in a new activity here and there. And you know what? We were skinny little bean pole children. I'm serious. We couldn't have been thinner as kids. I really don't feel like this sort of lifestyle is difficult to follow. Is it?

Now the only thing I would change with my children (if I ever have them), is that I would probably not introduce them to much fast food until they were way older. This would be as a gift to them, because I know how hard it's been for me over the years to not be a total junkfoodaholic. I think, honestly, my parents did a pretty good job feeding my sister and I on the income they had, in the generation we grew up in, and without giving her and I any "I'm too fat" complexes.

Now when I read articles like the one above, I'm absolutely heartbroken. Is this really the point we are at? Obesity has become such an issue, that we have to spend radical amounts of money on finding a pill to burn fat? Whhhhhhhyyyy? Why are we at the point where children have a type of diabetes that most people haven't gotten until they are elderly? Why are school lunches and snacks comprised of the absolute WORST food ever? Why aren't parents taking this more seriously? Why is my gym totally empty almost ALL of the time other than the week before college spring break? I really don't understand any of this, I don't understand using pills like this to be a proverbial band-aid on a huge hole in the head. Why has our relationship with food, and with what our bodies REALLY need gotten so totally lost and mangled.

I'm not mad (well maybe a little mad), I'm just totally afraid and saddened for the generations of kids that seem to be living a life that is less healthy, active, comfortable, and happy than the ones their parents probably got to live.

Monday, July 16, 2012


I recently turned 25 this summer. It was sort of scary for me (as was the birthday before it), because I feel like even though I'm not even close to being old, a lot of my "stupid years" are behind me. When I say "stupid years," I think everyone knows what I mean. There's a select gap in someone's life where drinking cases of beer and running around town playing pranks with your friends is considered relatively normal. These are the years when it's okay for you to drop classes and change your college major, and it's okay to have four different boyfriends over the course of your sophomore year.

Then you graduate. You get a job (hopefully). You start paying back all of your college loans at ridiculously high interest rates. You try to get your own place and buy some household supplies that aren't a Pizzaz or a beer pong table. You start traveling a little bit if you can afford it.

You're supposed to be becoming an adult. This can be super scary/unappealing for multiple reasons, but here is just a list of things that I love and hate about turning 25:

- I love being done with college. As much as I really enjoyed a lot of my classes, my friends, the relatively care-free schedule, I do not miss being at school and working a full-time job while trying to maintain some sort of social life. It was exhausting being that busy and poor.
-I love paying off all of the debt I accrued. I remember laying awake at night in college imagining my debt going up with compounded interest by the second. I would stare at the ceiling and PRAY that I would be able to pay my loans off before I turned 80 years old.
-I hate people pitying me for not being married with two kids already.
-I love people for respecting me that I made a decision to wait until I finished school, saved and paid off some debt, traveled and did some things for myself, met the right guy, enjoyed time with the right guy, AND then moved onto that phase of my life.
-I love have weekends off.
-I hate paying "big people" bills
-I love owning all of my own stuff, and really accumulating adult things
-I hate that I didn't work out more in college
-I hate working out now
-I hate that I'm supposed to eat like "an adult"
-I love having a 401k and health insurance
-I hate feeling like some of my adventures are going to take a backseat to being responsible the way I'm supposed to be
-I hate living with my parents because it makes me feel like huge baby
-I love living with my parents because I save a butt-ton of money and I get to spend more time with them

That's a pretty good list I think....I feel very torn about my current state of life. I feel very lucky about my current state of life. I feel very unsatisfied at times with my current state of life.

I feel like all of this defines being a 25 year old in my generation.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Soaking it up

I wanted something this summer. I felt restless. I kept thinking I knew exactly what it was I needed, but I was never right with conclusions I dreamt up. Everything felt far away from the real reason I was so disinterested and lathargic to every entertainment being thrown my way that normally made me distracted and content.

And then finally - I figured it out. I was doing everything half-way. I was lying to myself about all of the things I thought I was satisfied with, even when I wasn't satisfied at all. The idea of having everything everyone else had, seemed like enough to make me happy. But, I hadn't been listening to myself. Not at all. I hadn't been pushing myself to seek out, to learn, to take care, to nurture, to listen to my inner wants and desires, to breathe in deeper, to taste that food I'd always thought looked interesting, to go run through that sprinkler in someone's yard when I knew it would mess up my hair and make-up. To accept some things I could never change and start jumping on the things I could change.

I'd been hiding from all of this - and I have no idea why.

But I'm not going to hide from it anymore. I'm not going to keep being a separate and totally inactive portion of the life and world that is going on around me. There are things I see and experience everyday that I need to absorb.

I'm going to start absorbing. I'm going to start trying. I'm going to start exploring. I'm going to start challenging myself, and everyone around me. I'm going to start soaking every beautiful, sincere, authentic thing up. Because otherwise - what the hell am I doing here?

A few days ago I went to an old abandoned shop that I'd driven past a hundred times in my life. It has one long, rectangular window in the front, and from the road you can tell that there are items sitting on shelves directly behind it. I've always wondered what was  behind this window - and then that afternoon I asked myself "Why have I not just gone and looked inside? What is the worst that could happen?"

So I did - I took my mother and we went and looked through the window. And you know what? It was darling. There were brass trinkets, necklaces, old collectibles...and the best part was that it was all sitting in there undisturbed. It was very cool. It was better than I'd expected it would be.

Here's to things being better than you expect them to be, and daily challenging yourself to explore. 

Friday, June 8, 2012


I'm going to whip out a quick blog on one of my 15 minute breaks today - so this probably won't be very interesting. I've noticed on a lot of the blogs that I read regularly, they do a five senses of the moment summary. I love this idea! I rarely sit and focus on smells or tastes as much as I should. So I'm going to steal this blogging idea in order to give myself a creative crutch for the day. Senses:

Seeing: The gorgeous day outside. I hate being inside all day long, but I love that I get to at least see the sunshine. I think I may need to have an outdoor lunch!

Smelling: My little bunch of peonies that I snipped this morning (from my mother's garden and she said it was OK!) I LOVE peonies. 

Tasting: My coffee....even Starbucks' instant coffee packets taste great. Mmmmmm.

Touching: My keyboard. Typical.

Hearing: The U.S. Royalty Midsommar album. I've only listened to it about two million times, and that is NOT enough!

I'm going to get my passport picture taken today. FINALLY. I've had the paperwork done forever, but I haven't just gone and taken the stinking picture even though it probably takes 5 minutes. Now I will more than likely have to pay an extra fee so that I can have it by August. For the Osheaga Music Festival! YAY!

Have a great Friday :)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Mambo Italiano

So tonight..... I'm:
-Making homemade pizza - one of my favorite things to make EVER
-Having Libby and Whit over for homemade pizza night
-Using copious amounts of fresh tomatoes (not from Joan's garden, unfortunately) and fresh mozzarella 
-having many refills of malbec on the patio 

When I first decided to do pizza night earlier this week (while reminiscing over OTHER wonderful pizza nights with Whitney), I had decided to make our regular favorite; Crab Avocado. However, I decided I definitely needed to incorporate something new to my marinara sauce. The pizza's I make are almost always thick-crusted and the sauce is very sweet (which I love).

I felt that tonight called for a change, and added honey and extra red pepper to my regular sauce. I also made two of our regular favorite pizzas (the avocado crab) and a pepperoni and tomato (I really wanted to throw corn or zucchini on this - but no one seemed psyched about this). These pictures were taken before I put the avocado on, but I always put that on right before I set it on the table. Delicious!

Did I mention it was in the 90's today? It was in the 90's today. As much as I don't handle heat well, I couldn't help but soak up the sun this evening in a flowy skirt and no shoes. It was perfect. The food was really good - but the company was better. :)

Amazing Pizza Sauce

1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 tablespoon ground oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons dried minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground paprika
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 tablespoon honey
Salt and pepper to taste

Nie Nie's Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (I stole this off of one of my favorite blogs ever years ago

2-¾ whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-teaspoon salt
1 packet of yeast

Dissolve packet of yeast into 1-cup warm water with ¼ teaspoon sugar, let sit for 7 minutes (or until risen)
Mix flour, olive oil and yeast mixture with dough hook. For about 5 minutes. 
Place in oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap in warm spot for about 1 hour (or desired risen state) 
Roll out and add toppings. Cook for 17-18 minutes on 475 (those are my oven settings anyway)
I usually make 2 rectangle (cookie sheet) pizzas.

Monday, February 27, 2012

...for the alley and gutter were mine...

Today I went "alley-hiking." Even though the streets of Mitchell are NOTHING compared to bigger cities I've been too (especially extremely historical ones), I still find myself feeling ten years old when I set out between the backs of two brick buildings. I remember as a teenager reading pieces of Charles Dickens' stories on lazy afternoons. I assume a lot of people seem to connect the idea of Dickens’ stories to a tender-hearted child who escapes from an orphanage, or a grumbling old man who finds the true meaning of contentment and joy through three ghostly visitors on Christmas Eve. However, when I think of C.D. stories, I’m always drawn back to the poverty (I mean REAL poverty) described in such fine and harsh detail; I’m drawn to the slummy, dank factories and dark, eerie alleyways he painted in my mind. These images always seem to hold something new and interesting, even if they weren't lovely. Why is destruction and decay so endlessly beautiful sometimes?

That’s the thing about Dickens. His stories aren’t always necessarily set in a beautiful place, or even a happy place; yet, it's always a place that draws you in. These places makes us want to jump into the pages and pull back that broken down doorway, or rummage through a box full of throwaways. All of the leftovers of life that have been cast behind the buildings they used to reside in are actually clues - or at least part of a story. So much can be understood about the goings-on of inside an establishment by what the alleyway behind it holds. What do the owners get rid of? 

I’ve always found alleys to be intriguing. People forget that there is so much that takes place within these little “hidden” roads. There are animals, stairways, steaming pipes, garbage cans, discarded antiques, discarded crap, people taking smoking breaks....all of this only lit by the small amount of sunlight or starlight that slips through the strip of visible sky view above.

Basically...I kind of have a thing for alleyways.