Tuesday, February 24, 2015

This Weekend I / Currently, I'm

This weekend I
had lunch at SWAD with Jason on Friday when I ended up working from home
it was the best Indian food ever
then had an intense discussion with the cheese lady at the Fresh Market
when she and I disagreed on what constitutes "farmer's cheese"
did my first month of volunteering at what used to be one of my workplaces
(it was magically different and wonderful)
cooked welsh rarebit for The Cookbook Project with tomato soup
the perfect pairing with winter chill
bought too much fish at Publix and then forgot why I bought it
(that's okay, we're good at fish)
drank too many things from Starbucks with coconut milk in them
because it's delicious
picked something up, put it back down again, and promptly forgot where I left it
four times
tried to plan for my outfit for my brother's (casual, outdoors in Texas) wedding
I like these pants - does anyone else like them or am I crazy?
What should I wear?
had brunch at Nose Dive with some friends who also have little ones
and was not wholly impressed. I liked the idea of the grits bar
but grits without shrimp as an included topping
is a crime against southern breakfast
never did a single bit of laundry
despite telling myself I needed to three separate days in a row
I haven't seen my driver's license in three days.

Currently, I'm
drinking Caribou Coffee's Caribou blend and
wishing there was a Caribou Coffee in this state
working from home, again, this time due to
snow that just keeps coming and coming
reading or at least trying to read this book
only it turns out reading is hard with a post-baby attention span
pinning like a million things from anthropologie
which is entirely Sarah and Jo's fault because they forced me to go there Sunday
cooking probably bacon and eggs for breakfast in a minute
because if you have bacon and eggs
you should eat bacon and eggs
considering baking some bread while I'm home today
(take that, bread and milk panic-buyers!)
listening to the baby-babble from a few feet away,
and loving every second of it
going nowhere
except maybe to go play in the snow
with a baby who has never really seen anything like this before
in her life.

and I really do need to do some laundry.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Cookbook Project - 7/52

So I've finished my first week at my new job. All kinds of new terminology, ideas, and possibilities floating around. I'm still incredibly excited by it. In fact, I got to complete a few assignments this week and I may or may not have gone around bragging a little bit to Jason and my friend Sarah about it. Is that sad?

It might be sad.

I'm okay with that, though

It's been freezing cold the last week, so I kind of wish I'd held off on this week's project. I got groceries last Friday after work and decided to go ahead and bake this that night, but honestly I really do wish Id held off. Because cherry cobbler would have been great warm and just out of the oven on a night like tonight.

Oh well.

You win some, you... win some on a different day.

There were issues with this one. The first being that it ended up being a lot smaller than I had thought it would be, so I had to scrap the baking pan I had already pulled out and sprayed with Pam and use a small one. It is definitely only about four servings or less of food. The other problem is that nobody has cherries this time of year.

I swear, the recipe was in the February section of the cookbook! So the placement of the cherry recipes mystified me, because it was so so so out of season. But I had said I would do it, and darn it, I tried.

I ended up having to buy Bing cherries instead, so mine came out much darker than the recipe's version. I also use whole wheat flour for everything. Other than that, it was basically the same.

And completely, entirely unphotogenic. Bear with me, I promise some sort of pretty recipe will happen eventually.

Ingredients - Amounts Omitted
Sour pitted cherries, canned/jarred (I used Bing cherries in a jar)
sugar, divided
almond extract
baking powder
slivered almonds, optional

This was a pretty easy throw-together dessert, all things considered. I put cornstarch, cinnamon, and sugar in a saucepan, poured out the jar of cherries on top, juice and all, and mixed together. The thing with cherries is that they're easy to break if your stir too much, so you just stir really gently to combine.

Heat to a boil, continuing to stir consistently so it doesn't stick. Once boiling, pour into a buttered pan or "small casserole dish". For me, I ended up using one of our smallest baking pans and it still seemed a little big, so really pay attention to how much is in this.

Stick in the oven and preheat to 375 Farenheit. This lets the dish, and the cherries, warm up with the oven.

Combine the rest of the sugar, flour, and baking powder in a small bowl. Here the book tells you to melt the butter and combine with milk and almond extract. When I did this, the milk IMMEDIATELY curdled and I had to pour it out. Now, I realize everyone's first reaction is going to be to tell me that I had to let the butter cool for a bit, and I am here to tell you that I tried it after cooling and I tried it without letting cool and they both curdled. So I threw my hands up in the air and mixed the melted butter in with the flour and THEN the milk and almond extract, and it worked just fine.

Once everything is just mixed, spoon out over the hot cherries in the pan. Sprinkle with almonds, then bake for 25ish minutes or until the cobbler is lightly browned. Serve warm or cool. The book says it serves "4 or more" but I think it's right at 4 as a dessert on its own, maaaaaaybe six if you added ice cream or yogurt on the side.

This was... overwhelming. The cherries were good and the idea was good, but I would get rid of some of the sugar and the almond extract next time. It was definitely too sweet for me, and between almond slivers AND the almond extract the almond taste was just completely too much.

So next time I'll just leave out the almond extract and I'd say probably half of the sugar and I think this would be really good. Although maybe you need more of the sugar with the different kind of cherries. But I'll just eat ice cream with it and that will solve any conceivable lack-of-sugar problems, right?

In short, this wasn't my favorite cobbler recipe ever, but it seems easy to fiddle with, so I'm happy to give it another try.

Next week - Welsh Rarebit! Don't know what that is? Check in next Friday and find out! As always, if you find yourself wanting to take a crack at the cookbook yourself, you can find it here on Amazon or probably just about any larger bookstore.

P.S. Links to the Farmers Cookbook in these project posts will be affiliate links. This means that if you click through and purchase, I may receive a small commission for helping you realize how awesome this cookbook is. Please rest assured that any and all commission monies will be spent buying me more books.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Day 1

See that? That is my driveway.

It's not normally white, but right now it is, completely covered in sleet after hours of it coming down.

When I left work, the cars were just starting to ice up but the road was pretty clean. It still took almost 35 minutes to make a 22 minute drive, but that's only because the cars in front of me weren't driving home so much as they were sort of aimlessly drifting in and out of roads and lanes, and if their random trajectory went past their houses, well that was nice. Otherwise, they were too terrified to either hit the gas or the brake, so they just... coasted.

We all just coasted home.

As a transplanted Midwesterner, I find this uniquely infuriating, because everyone would be safer if they drove faster when the roads were still clean rather than putt-puttin' on their way while the ice builds up.

Work was... brain-draining, but in a good way. It's a whole new industry and something I have never done before (well, I've done bits and pieces but never all together and never in this particular way) so there is a lot of learning going on. I actually am pretty fascinated by digging into the training that I have available to me, because I'm learning about how certain individual things I did know about fit together in order to create kind of a whole third thing I didn't know about. (You'll forgive the vague; like I said, I'm trying to maintain a polite privacy for the company) I completed an assignment today, though, so I felt pretty rockin' on my way home.

We'll see how I feel tomorrow, after a few more training videos and more work on my next assignment.

Audra, meanwhile, is going through what I can only call "yet another growth spurt", in which she eats her own weight it feels like every day (although at least "her own weight" at this point involved all sorts of random foods, not just milk), sleeps only in fits and starts (hence my 3:30 am wakeup this morning) and wants nothing but snugglin', all day and all night.

I made it through Day 1.

Let's see if I'm even able to get my car out of the carport for day 2!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Breath Inbetween

Because the universe has been sending me "you should do this, you are doing the right thing" signs about this job, I've been in a pretty good mood about it overall. For instance - when I did the last interview, every single song that played on the radio station I listened to on the way was playing super upbeat, inspirational music. That radio station is Chuck FM, which is basically random, so I couldn't even blame it on the genre the station played or anything. Then the heat at my last workplace wasn't working and no one was in any particular hurry to come help us fix it. While I sat there that morning with very, very cold hands and no coat it occurred to me that maybe this was a sign that it was good to leave. When I asked about attending my brother's wedding (which will cause me to miss a day of work less than two months after I start the job), my new boss was happy to give me permission to plan to go.

On my final day, my final minute, as I pulled out of my workplace's driveway for the last time as an employee, the Florence & the Machine song "Dog Days Are Over" began to play.

It all seemed very clear, as far as messages from the universe go; I had made the right decision.

Well, the universe may have changed its mind, because suddenly we're about to hit with a winter storm, everyone is doing their usual panic-induced bread-and-milk-buying-rampage at all the local stores, and businesses (and daycares) have already begun to announce early closures, delays, or closings. For my first day at my new job.

So I've decided that perhaps I should stop looking to the universe for signs, because the universe doesn't know what it wants me to do.

Instead I baked a loaf of olive, basil, and sundried-tomato bread, won a $50 credit in a giveaway our veggie and fruit delivery people ran, hung out with a baby who is probably going through another growth spurt and therefore cries literally any time you are not holding her and some of the times you are, drank a lot of tea, and ate some cheesecake with fruit on top from the Fresh Market, which is the Land of Perfect Desserts.

Take that, universe.

... but still be nice to me and let me have a good day tomorrow, okay?