Sunday, January 27, 2008


Back around Christmas time, my boss mistakenly treated us to some (just may have been more than one!) of the absolute best cookies I've ever tasted. About a month later, I started dreaming about these ginger cookies so off I went to try and find a similar-sounding recipe in the hopes of re-creating the taste and experience of these cookies.

I found something that sounded like it had a chance (though I should have known these weren't the same when the recipe called for the balls of dough to be rolled in sugar before baking) on I haven't always had tons of success with but I figured it was worth a try - plus, this one was rated 5-stars across the board.

Let me preface my reaction with the admission that I am 100% spoiled - unless one day I take possession of the "original" recipe, I don't know that any cookie or recipe will ever measure up. But with that said, these cookies were actually really good. And yes - they truly are (like the recipe states) - big, soft ginger cookies. I also liked that they are almost perfectly round, but I was sad when the cookie that had been nice and fluffy-looking right from the oven flattened out. So my search for the real thing will continue.

I have since been back on and found another soft ginger cookie recipe that got even more enthusiastic reviews, so I may continue "the quest" with that second recipe.

*Update - bosswoman Sara is going to get me the recipe for the "real thing"!! I suspect she might have some personal interest in doing so but regardless, the recipe will soon be mine! Stay tuned!!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The "Great" Debate

Go figure... recently that it seems like even the most insignificant things can spark a debate and necessitate a poll be taken immediately, often in an attempt to predict the outcome. This issue has been "swirling" around (and certainly came to light while I was sipping on my free cup of coffee this morning) - especially given the increase in number of coffee shops I continue to notice - so I thought I'd see which side of "the debate" you all fall on.

What type of coffee drinker are you?
  • home-brewed, casual

  • home-brewed, freshly ground only

  • brand loyal (which brand?)
  • Starbucks only
  • office coffee - K-Cup anyone?

  • not particular

  • anything black *like my dad, or barely coffee? *like my mom

  • tea only?
  • other?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Just Talkin'

Just because I'm not doing much of my own cooking (and certainly am not inspired by what I actually have managed to throw together) doesn't mean I haven't been paying attention to anything food-related. I gotta do something while dreaming of finally getting into my cute new kitchen (5 weeks and 2 days, but who's counting?!).

This morning on the Today Show (haven't seen that show in ages and had forgotten why I love it so much!) a contributing editor from Bon Appetit (another of my personal favorites!) provided some tips on cooking delicious, gourmet recipes year-round while maintaining a level of frugality; I liked her recommendations of buying in-season (a tip that she repeated numerous times) ingredients and produce, and changing what you cook throughout the year according to those ingredients - and she didn't mean just the fresh fruit and veggies you eat but also what you make with them! Another tip she mentioned was not to be tempted by the first thing that you see right when you enter your grocery store because very often, the less-costly but equally tasty and beautiful produce lie just around the corner. *My two cents... you've probably heard this before: shop around the perimeter of your store and not the interior - though admittedly, this is more of a calorie-reducing strategy than a cost-cutting measure.

The nice lady from Bon Appetit also proposed a few recipes that she claims get you more "bang for your buck" - ways to eat fresh and healthy without going broke. As we like pretty much anything with avocados, I'll definitely give the spinach salad a try; this will allow us to take advantage of using in-season ingredients, too! Yet another to add to the "to cook" list!

And, as a quick 180 from the yummy food talk... did anyone catch the "Ice Man" feature on the Today Show this morning? Turns out that through an interesting mind over body-type exercise, he can withstand freezing temperatures for long periods of time! Tomorrow he will attempt to break his own world-record by remaining submerged in ice for over 71 minutes - a record I will go out on a limb and say will remain his for a very long time.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Except for one Maryland fan in particular, I find the best way to describe the rest of them is "awkward" (there's a story here). They all have very limited vocabularies and to put it nicely - jeering the new coach of a team who's head coach very suddenly passed away just a few months ago... a big no-no.

Despite all that and the final score, it was a great night of good ole' ACC basketball.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Another Season

It's true - there are many "new" seasons in my life right now, but the one I'm most excited about at the moment is the start of the American Idol season... TONIGHT at 8/7c! I'm taping it on my trusty VCR (yes, I still have and use one) since I'll be cheering on my Deacs at the Wake-Maryland basketball game.

But before I get ahead of myself... even though it's been a while since I've been 'here', I have been occasionally jotting down a note or two to myself when I've come across or done something somewhat interesting, thinking "one day, I'll put that on the blog"... so I thought I'd share some of those things with you from the past couple of weeks before we are off to the "next season".

Turns out the last few weeks have actually provided a good glimpse into an overview of my year in review... funny how that works out.

Over Christmas, I spent a great week+ down in Atlanta - it's true that thanks to the events of August 29, it may have been more wedding-planning (more on that to come) than Christmas but I think we still got to celebrate the real season as friends and family were in and out of town at various times helping remind us.

Of course one of the highlights was watching my adorable, ever-growing and learning 2+ year old nephew (with a new understanding of "surprises") open his gifts from his nana and g-dad (his version of "grandad").

Children, even those who spend the rest of their waking hours running around with endless energy, have an amazing innate ability to show us what is really important. To Charlie, that means lots of hugs and kisses all around.

Charlie was also big into practicing being gentle with his stuffed animals and our two dogs (Annabelle make the trek down with me and spent the next 9 days being terrorized by my parents' still-puppy dachschund)... this became especially important when we were presented with a bib that said "I love my big brother" on it! Jacob and Robyn are pregnant with their second child (though Jacob swears "it" is twin boys)!!! This just means the fun for our family doesn't stop come March 2... it's just begun! My mom's already talking about getting a bigger kitchen table for family meals.

At the last minute of Christmas evening, I did take a break from wedding planning to help make us dinner and our traditional dessert (Kara back in the Kitchen!); it wasn't stated as such but I knew my future hung in the balance when I heard that because of the craziness of late, my mom hadn't been able to make both my dad's favorite cookies or our family-favorite Christmas Strawberry Trifle. Luckily, I was finally able to master the trifle recipe this fateful holiday and our Christmas went on!

Once we made it through the holidays, we were given a brief reprise; shortly after Christmas, my mom and I spent a wonderful, leisurely afternoon with some of our closest friends at my friend, Anne Marie's beautiful home. My aunt and cousin were in town as well as my sister-in-law so we were lucky to have them join us as well!

Soon after my return to DC, we welcomed little Evan Leech into this world... we'd been waiting for him since March so his arrival was a nice last Christmas present. It's been obvious by his affection for his mom and dad from the moment he saw them that he just couldn't wait any longer to meet his family which is why he arrived a few weeks early (but healthy - what a blessing!).

Recently, the camera has been used mostly for wedding-related activities so I won't bore you with those pictures... except to say I've remembered how much I love pictures and recording memories for the ages so I'm hoping to bring out the camera more often.

Sadly, since the our fun, low-key game-night New Year's with Megan and Brad, Sara and Shiu, we haven't had the chance to be very social save for an occasional quick dinner with friends. We are trying to make more time for quality evenings with friends who we especially haven't seen in some time, hoping to carry that theme throughout 2008 (though we welcome any and all to the house after 3/1!); I realized far too late in 2007 that I really dislike ending the year with "shoot, I wish I'd been better about doing x or y this year... oh well - next year...". There'll always be things you think of too late in the year but I really want to make the most of the time I have... so being more productive and better time management are two of my goals for the near future. I have been vowing, each day more and more, that I will soon be back to in the kitchen, experimenting, cooking, and baking away (slow-cooker recipes anyone?) and also maybe picking up a fun new trade or two, little by little. I'm asking you all to hold me to these goals... ask me how my progress is going throughout the year and I'll keep you all posted on my status as well as anything that comes of my goals that might be useful for you!

** Wedding update... 6 weeks and 4 days to go! Even though I've promised this wouldn't become a wedding blog, I am just dying to mention one part of the wedding planning that I think is often over-looked or not mentioned and appreciated. I'm talking about meeting and working with my church's music director, Clair Maxwell. This was the part of the planning that we knew the least about but it quickly became the easiest part of our preparations, thanks to Clair's knowledge and easy-going attitude! I could not be more excited about the music that will ring in the church as our wedding gets underway, throughout the ceremony, and as we happily exit as a married couple. I hope I'm not the only one who's had such a great experience planning for the music that plays such an important part in your wedding ceremony.

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