Monday, December 30, 2013
My parents moved back to their hometown of Rimersburg, Pennsylvania this summer. Their food situation is pretty much a fantasy to me. My grandmother, uncle, and now my mom upkeep my grandmother's large gardens and orchards. My uncle also raises bees in hopes to make honey, my dad and some of his brothers hunt more deer than they have room for, and a couple of the uncles are really into mushrooming*.
The gardens give my (huge) family far too much produce and fruit to keep up with, so my mom does a ton of canning. I saw my parents at Thanksgiving and mom brought everyone crates of canned veggies and fruit. One of the highlights were a couple of jars of chanterelles.
I don't know what pulled this soup together so well, but this is hands down the best vegetable soup I've ever made. I followed a recipe something like this. Mine has carrots, portabello and chanterelle mushrooms, sweet potato, celery, onion, zucchini, jalapeno, and garlic. I used low sodium organic chicken broth as the stock. I sautaeed the veggies in a few teaspoons of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter. I let them brown well and added a bunch cippolini onion & rosemary salt one of our other grandmothers gave us. The broth turned out rich and delicious. I hope this wasn't a fluke. I'm crediting the butter, cippolini onion salt, and chanterelles (and their juice from the jar). It's delicious.
*My uncles got really into mushrooming several years ago. They're known to pull off the side of the road and look around for mushrooms anytime they're going anywhere. My favorite story is when one of my uncles took another out in the middle of nowhere to his "chanterelle spot". They walked pretty far into the woods and when they found some, my uncle said, "listen, don't you dare tell anyone about this spot!" and the other responded, "well I don't know where the hell we are so don't you worry".
Sunday, December 15, 2013
omfg, these are so good. A close rival to my favorite coconut oil chocolate chip cookie recipe.
Really good chocolate chip cookies are dangerous in our house..they are usually all consumed within 2 days. I cut the recipe in half and sent some home with our friend Greg to help save us from eating a dozen cookies in a day.
I turned in my final grades on Friday, so the past couple days have felt like non-stop celebrating. Gouda & crispy prosciutto burger for lunch? YES. Delicious IPA at 2pm? YES. Buy a bottle of champagne while at the grocery store? DUH.
I'm looking forward this week to lots of crafting, baking, seeing Neil Degrasse Tyson on Tuesday (!!!) with family, tagging along to a metal show, and seeing Mark Kozelek (where I'll probably cry the entire way through the show like last time).
Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 2 1/2 dozen; can easily be cut in half
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups chocolate chips
1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Continue to cook until the butter turns golden brown. Stir or swirl pan occasionally. Watch the butter closely - it burns easily. When the butter is golden in color and has a nutty aroma, it's done. Pour into a shallow dish and allow to cool in the fridge until soft (no longer melted).
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.
3. Beat the (softened) brown butter and sugars with a mixer. Add eggs (one at a time) & vanilla extract.
4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the wet ingredients and mix just until combined. Add the chocolate chips.
5. Spoon onto your cookie sheet leaving a couple inches between each cookie. Bake 10-12 minutes.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Eek, this is one of my longest streaks without posting. I've been busy with work and visitors the last couple months (and a couple of music festivals happened after my last entry..). We've been spending time this month with a friend from Italy and Eric's bandmates. In a week, Eric's family from Florida will be in town too. I would say that all the visitors coming and going has helped us to keep our place cleaner than usual, but that's not really true. :/
One big project we did in the last month was plant rye seed in our yard. It was a surprising amount of work to turn over all of the soil in our tiny back yard, but it looks great now.
Other happenings: Eric got a full time job offer at a company he's been doing contract work for. I'm so happy for him that he found a job he loves (at a really cool startup). (!!) // I've been "training" for a 5 mile race that I'm doing with a bunch of my family at Thanksgiving. // My first batch of homemade Kombucha is just a couple days away from trying.
Posted by Monica at 9:35 PM
Friday, September 27, 2013
Oh god I love lara bars. They're my favorite breakfast, although we hardly ever have them at home. I'm guilty of eating them in grocery stores when I'm really hungry and having to have just the wrapper rung up at the register.
A former student of mine brought me back dates from Saudi Arabia. They are the best dates I've ever had. I still have so many that I've been making lara bars some mornings. My favorite is to knock off the cherry pie bar with just dates, dried cherries and walnuts.
To make: put equal parts dried cherries, dates and walnuts into a food processor. Whirl. Done. (The cherry pie bar actually has almonds in it, but I prefer walnuts anyway.)
I'd like to try making their banana bread version soon using this recipe (roasted almonds, banana chips & dates.) Excited to hang with my friend Jeremy that's in town this weekend and watch the last episode of Breaking Bad (eep!!). Happy weekend!
Friday, September 20, 2013
Saturday, September 14, 2013
Things are good, but very busy. I'm clocking more than 10 hours on campus multiple days every week, so I'm not doing much of anything until the weekends. I haven't made much lately other than some muffins and catching up on sewing hems of some pants and skirts (boring). I never posted the jewelry I made for my bridesmaids, so here are those. They are so simple, but somehow took far longer than they should have.
Monday, September 2, 2013
I don't remember buying any salad dressing in the past few years. I can't believe how much better tasting homemade dressing is and how easy it is to make. I always figured that it tasted so much better because it was freshly made. While this is true, Amy also pointed out that the quality of oil used in bottled dressing is typically really poor. Ew.
My go-to dressings are a lemon-basil dressing from Real Simple, balsamic vinaigrette (I don't measure anything), and greek dressing. The secret to making a great greek dressing is to steal the olive oil you use from the jar/container of olives you're using. Or a little of the brine if there's not any oil to steal. We occasionally make a honey mustard dressing out of honey, dijon & rice vinegar. It's sooo good.
We didn't do a whole lot this weekend, but we did go to a float spa (weird and intriguing) and I started my first batch of fermented pickled carrots. The carrots will be really fun to watch over the next week. They'll start bubbling and getting foamy at the top of the jar as the bacteria does its thing. Prepping a batch of these takes less than 10 minutes. The instructions (click on photo to enlarge) just using a brine solution, black whole peppercorns, dill, garlic and the pickling vegetable of your choice (the instructor mentioned that carrots and pickling cucumbers really work best for this recipe).
This method of pickling is pretty much no fail. You follow the brine ratio and pack a clean jar with your veggies and herbs. Then it just sits and you scrape off the foam on the top for several days. And it can live in your fridge for a while and you can enjoy the healthy benefits of eating lactobacillus :).
(Instructions thanks to Kate Payne from Whole Food's class on 8/13)
Friday, August 30, 2013
August recap: I never like August. The end of summer vacation, unbearable heat, and the chaos of the beginning of classes.. I'm glad to see it end in a couple days. Welcome, September.
to end on a positive note: HAPPY LONG WEEKEND!! I'm reuniting this weekend with a friend I met on a cross country bike trip back in 2006. :) AND we're having fresh clams for dinner this Sunday at Sunday Family Dinner.
Posted by Monica at 10:48 AM
Friday, August 9, 2013
Thursday, August 1, 2013
I was spoiled for this birthday. It was celebrated multiple times through pool parties, Sunday Family Dinner, going out, and a long lunch date with Meg. I actually got THREE cakes too - one made by Meg, cupcakes made by Amy (above - and yep, that's candied bacon on top!), and a cake in a jar sent from DC from Keeley.
Sunday Family Dinner had fresh seafood, including oysters and razor clams.
Razor clams are....pretty weird. Their shells are beautiful, but the actual clams themselves look pretty strange. They're really active. Greg joined us for dinner and suggested we flash boil some in an attempt to get them from moving so much (do you see the one sticking out hugging the bowl below? ew). That helped tremendously by being able to take them out and properly* clean and cut them to fry some.
*by properly cutting them, I mainly mean that I cut open every potential nook and cranny that might have some sand in it....leaving a destroyed clam that barely held itself together....
^ fried! (below: steamed in a lime & Sriracha broth)
The dinner was enjoyed with Whiskey Slushies, which I'm now in love with (recipe below).
Amy made them, but by her description, this seems nearly identical to her recipe:
Whiskey Slushies, adapted from All Recipes.com
Makes 10 servings
1/2 can frozen lemonade concentrate
1/2 can frozen orange juice concentrate
1 cup strong brewed black tea
1/4 cup white sugar (recipe calls for 1/2 cup, but Amy cut her sugar down a lot and it was perfect)
1 cup whiskey
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 liter ginger ale soda
In a plastic container, mix all ingredients except the ginger ale. Allow to freeze for 24 hours. Scoop into a glass and top with ginger ale. (You could eliminate the concentrates and water and probably just use lemonade and/or orange juice.)
P.S. Cupcake recipe here.
Monday, July 29, 2013
As I wind up the wedding posts, there are a few people whose generosity was endless in the days prior to our wedding that I would like to thank.
Thank you to my parents,
who ran more errands than I can possibly count, planned tricky logistics, and all-around unselfishly gave their time weeks prior and the day of. I can't think of the words to express my gratitude; you move me to tears.
Thank you to my Aunt Robin,
for the most beautiful and perfect wedding flowers I could have ever dreamed of. I showed my aunt several pictures of flowers I liked and before I knew it, she had a complete breakdown of exactly what I needed to order. She went so beyond her call of duty; she was willing to do a million more flowers than asked. She worked the entire week before my wedding round-the-clock to create a record number of bouquets of flowers, bridal party bouquets, corsages, and various other floral decorations.
My grandmother's house was open, so my aunt took over the house with flowers. My aunt stayed there, with the air conditioning uncomfortably low, all week...even developing sinus pressure because of the cold temps! You rock my world Aunt Robin.
Thank you to my cousin Tana,
Thank you to Jake Brown,
who played the role of groomsman, DJ, and dad that night. One of my aunts told me later that she saw him at one point using one hand to control some stuff on his laptop and the other to push a stroller back and forth trying to get his son to fall asleep.
Jake and his wife Megan were so thoughtful throughout the whole process and my family kept telling us how sweet our DJ was (we agree). Thank you so much Jake and Megan.
If you're getting married in St. Augustine or anywhere close by, we can't recommend Jake and Megan enough. Check out their adorable website here.
Thank you also to my brother, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, Ian, Jess, Keeley, Brennan, Uncle Eric, Uncle Chris, and Uncle Jim for your incredible help in setting up and enduring much stress the day of. Thank you also to Max Soelzer for officiating. And lastly, thank you Jordan Burch for our beautiful photos and being such a joy to have around on our wedding day.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
We had a few family and friends over Sunday night and I made watermelon margaritas. Juicing a watermelon is so satisfying; you get soooo much juice. (I have a container of leftover in the fridge if you want some.)
I'd tweak the ratios a bit if I made these again, but I may have messed them up by quickly making a mass quantity. If I did follow the right ratios, then I'd add a little more lime juice and a little more tequila for that margarita bite that seemed to be missing. They were good though; they just tasted like a good watermelon cocktail. Adjust as you see necessary.
Makes 1 Margarita:
Chili Salt Rim
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1 lime wedge
2 ounces blanco tequila
2 ounces watermelon juice
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/4 ounce Simple Syrup
I love summer. Do I have to go back to work next month?
Monday, July 22, 2013
here I posted about how easy they are to make.) We don't have a drill around anymore, and with a 40% off coupon, buying one isn't too bad. Well except I bought a 48"x48" canvas and thought it would fit in my car....nope. I walked home from Hobby Lobby carrying the canvas. Pretty funny. Luckily our house is just a little less than a mile away.
Monday, July 15, 2013
Saturday, July 13, 2013
Our wedding day was perfect. We debated having a wedding or eloping for a long time; I think we were actually still debating what to do up until the last possible time we could. We're both pretty practical, so the arguments for eloping made sense to us. The last call was in December when we realized we would never have the opportunity again to have all of our closest family and friends together in one place.
I can't imagine now not having done it. The planning, stress, and money were without a doubt worth it. We had such a special day and nearly everything was as good or better than we imagined.
Here are some of my favorite moments from our wedding:
Getting ready. I had a pretty relaxed time getting ready. I think the key to being calm getting ready is having alone time. I had an hour completely alone - it was so relaxing. I was nervous, but didn't have to small talk to anyone during that time and could just get myself together. My friend Lauren did my hair and it was great to have the room quiet while she did my hair, too.
First look. Instead of waiting until walking down the isle to see Eric for the first time, our photographer helped us set up a first look before the ceremony. I hid at the top of the court house stairs and she positioned Eric's back to me. Getting to see him alone was really sweet and in doing so we were able to knock out a lot of our photos before the ceremony. This allowed the picture time after the ceremony to be really short. I would suggest this to anyone planning a wedding; we got to jump into cocktail hour and visit family and friends before the dinner started.
Being outside. My #1 wish for our wedding was to have it completely outside. I love outdoor weddings. We found a great venue on the bay in Pensacola with lots of outdoor room. All week it was calling for a high chance of thunderstorms for our wedding day. I sat on pins and needles watching the weather, and the day of it rained in the morning and then turned into a gorgeous day. We couldn't have been luckier.
Having all your close friends and family in one place. There are no words for how amazing it is to have so many special people in your life in one place.
Eric's dad officiating. Eric's dad officiated, making our ceremony even more heartfelt. Our script was personal and intimate thanks to Eric's work in writing it. Writing your own vows is a detail I would recommend to never skip, too.
All photos by Jordan Burch Photography.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
I love the slaw you get at Vietnamese restaurants - cabbage, mint, green onions, vinegar, sesame seeds,.. YUM. Found a recipe here that I like that uses Napa cabbage, sesame oil, rice vinegar, mint, scallions, cilantro, ginger & almonds. (How can you go wrong with that many herbs?)
We're back from traveling from Meg's wedding and I have another month before I go back to work full time. I'll be posting more wedding stuff & pictures from our honeymoon soon.
Saturday, June 29, 2013
I'm married! And back from our honeymoon. We're still unpacking, and getting ready to go to a friend's wedding in Florida, but we should be settled soon. Our wedding day was perfect, Italy was fabulous, and we enthusiastically returned to Austin ready to eat tex-mex. We are both sick though, so we're resting up and then we'll kill the tacos.
I'll be posting crafts from our wedding and more photos when we get them. More soon.
Glad to be back!
All photos are from our wedding photographer, Jordan Burch (amazing).
Friday, April 5, 2013
Happy Friday! I probably will continue to be spotty with posting until July. I'm swamped with wedding planning and the end of the semester teaching business. Planning has been enjoyable lately, I just mainly had to get over the hump first. I can't believe how much time the planning process takes; all I'm doing lately is teaching and wedding stuff.
Our weekend should be really fun - Paramount date with Amy and Gary to see Leo Kottke and then celebrating EJ's birthday, Eric's first Italian lesson (honeymoon = ITALY!!), and more wedding planning. And probably grading. But that's not fun, so I shouldn't be mentioning the grading.. Happy weekend!
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Met up with a few friends out in Zilker Park yesterday for brunch. I made cinnamon rolls using Paula Deen's recipe. I let them do their second rise overnight in the fridge (and set them out a couple hours before baking that morning). They are delcious, but already at the second day they aren't nearly as good. Make them the day of and try to get all of them eaten (not by yourself hopefully)!
Friday, February 8, 2013
Ok back to grading, exam writing, and planning! Happy almost weekend!
Friday, February 1, 2013
Eric's been swamped with opening up his own screen printing shop. I'm staying really busy with teaching, but having a much less stressful semester than in the fall. I keep daydreaming about the summer. I could use the money from teaching a summer course, but I'm going to relax (first get married, then relax!!).
Here's to a productive weekend and lots of sunshine. <3
Posted by Monica at 2:00 PM