Friday, August 28, 2009

Hope You're Not Hungry

My sincerest apologies for the lack of food-related posts - though it admittedly wasn't a tough decision choosing between a post with mediocre-at-best pictures of food OR indulging you all (hello hello?!) with my stunning niece and nephew (and absolutely take the serious bias of the author into consideration when reading that).

But, if you're a friend of mine, I'm fairly confident that after a quick scan of these pictures, you won't need convincing that these are worth more than any post about last night's dinner, brownies or even bar cookies (yes, even bar cookies).

I didn't promise that they were all perfectly poetic... ah-hem, one of my subjects was (quite clearly) more interested in injecting humor into his aunt's attempts at portraits than the quiet thoughtfulness that his sister exhibited. (portraits at a Mexican restaurant - and I pretend I have learned more about photography?!?)

"Quiet thoughtfulness"... er, or a serious focus on dinner.

I may have mentioned this before but if someone knows where I can pick up a set of eyes and eyelashes like these kids', I'm willing to pay the big bucks. Oh, and the ability to look so darn cute with those perfectly chubby cheeks would go for a high price as well.

And if anyone's looking for any variation on little boys' rubber boots, I'm sorry to report that Charlie has every single pair ever manufactured so save yourself the trouble of searching. When you go through 2-3 pairs a year, you learn to start stocking up.

I know it's not nice to brag but gushing over kids who aren't my own is allowed, right? And well, in this case, warranted, too. Eventually, I promise to get back to some recipes and actual food... right now, though, these kids are just so much easier on the eyes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

She Can Pick 'Em

"It's your birthday... it's your birthday.... "

Goofy lyrics aside, today really is her birthday. And there's no better way to celebrate our little hound's 6th year than to reminisce about one of her favorite places on Earth... Penn Yan. Admission: it's one of our favorite places too - the fact that Annabelle loves it is just our (now blown) cover.

Can you blame us?

The view out almost any window of our family's house is of the huge expanse of the lake, stretched out before us. And should we tire of the water, frequent games of Kubb and wiffle ball can be found on the field just adjacent.

There are numerous vineyards (although we, of course, have our favorites long since mapped out) within a 15 minute drive; and the quick but indulgent tastings are perfect for any infrequent moments of cloud cover.

And of course, the food. Oh the food. Dining-at-its-best up at the lake for this family doesn't mean visiting a fancy restaurant - rather, it involves buying our resident chef Ben his selection of entree and any condiments he might need to prepare it and stepping back as he works his magic. A select few of the rest of us run around pretending to sous-chef, which to us, means "making sure Ben is happy". Occasionally a batch of pretzels or garden fresh tomato bruschetta shows up but it's Ben's masterpieces that keep 'em coming back.

So here's to another year, Annabelle. And to you, Penn Yan... until we meet again.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Book of Memories

Some people just have a gift, and lucky for the rest of us, they decide to make it their full-time job. In this case, that person is our wedding photographer (Kara, really, talking about your wedding again?... didn't this happen like a year and a half ago??), a man and his staff who I have sung praises of before.

As it turns out, not only does Mike have the gift of being a 'more-than-words-can-describe-talented photographer', he also knows how to assemble quite the team of folks to make the pictures he's taken (though they really didn't any help) and make them sing. *yes, I really did just say that - I'm feeling poetic

So, a year and a half later or not (disclaimer here - the time lapse was utterly our fault, we procrastinated as long as possible having to down-select just a few of the 1000+ pictures), this gorgeous album is currently (and will for a long time) making yours truly quite happy...

It tells the story of our big day exactly like I remember it in my head... lots of my embarrassed laughing when the photographers had me doing all sorts of bridal poses, and the friends who stood by us as we made it official, to the touching and personal toasts (including more...and more laughing) and special dances (and songs!) at the reception.

I couldn't ask for a better momento of our once-in-a-lifetime. The day was perfectly 'us' and I think our album says that to a "T".

*A HUGE thanks to Mike Moreland and his staff.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Blah Blah Blah

The new season (talking about football here, folks) hasn't even officially started but I am officially done with all of the hype. My gosh...

First it's (I dare spill his name here) Vick and his ongoing antics... or rather, his (ah-hem) new-found state of honesty and remorse. A happy ending to that story, though - he's signed with Philly and is right where he belongs (no offense to any Eagles fans out there).

Next up is Favre... oh dear. Nothing sketchy here, just drama around a future hall-of-famer who can't give up the game. I've got nothing for or against the man, but it does seem like his time has come... and gone. It is a shame, though, as I'd previously thought Favre was bigger than a cheap publicity stunt, but it seems as though he's not the only one.

And a quick diversion back to baseball... but this one is closer to home. Perhaps the name Stephen Strasburg doesn't mean anything to you but around here, you can't go far without hearing his name followed by his $15+M price tag. While I really can't understand how the salary (and signing bonus, etc.) is justified for someone who hasn't thrown one pitch in a professional league, I just hope this kid can handle all the pressure and fame that has been heaped up on him. I'm not optimistic... but only time will tell.

And then, just when it seemingly can't get more corrupt or drama-filled... along comes a coach talking about why he just won't leave a formerly pitiful program (and it's not for lack of offers!). Really, though (admission of my bias here)... who would want to leave the solid program that he's grown by leaps and bounds, and stuck with... because he "really does believe in family, commitment and all those other values that are nothing more than just motivational buzzwords to so many of his coaching colleagues." Huh? Sure, you might argue that this guy is only in the ranks of college football where the dis-loyalty and corruption don't run so deep, but I beg to differ... especially given whatever is in the water so far this season, I count our Coach Grobe as a true class act, perhaps for once the pros should look to a college coach for some direction!

*For those who literally thought "blah blah blah" at my sports commentary, don't let my lack of (food-related, or otherwise) posting falsely lead you to believe I'm not cooking, or eating, for that matter. And hopefully some of what I've made will catch your fancy as well.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

At Any Hour

I'm a breakfast food person - I just am. I like eggs, and breakfast meats, stratas and pretty much anything one can serve in those breakfast hours. I take that back, we eat breakfast for dinner pretty regularly so I even enjoy the above foods outside of those hours (did you know there are people who will not eat breakfast foods outside of the morning hours - there are, I know some of them).

I say these things only to level-set the fact that this recipe wasn't a hard sell on me - especially given the fact that I've tried making cinnamon rolls twice now and wasn't exactly happy either time. Disclaimer: the recipes I tried are NOT flawed, it was all baker - that's me, I have a 1 in 10 success rate with yeast Joy's recipe, though, as daunting as it read, was accompanied by such glorious pictures of her beautiful cinnamon rolls, sure not to be dry given the addition of cream cheese, was not to be resisted - especially when I could justify making them just for Chris and me one weekend morning because I had a lonely stick of cream cheese needing a home.

Wow. The recipe was absolutely flawless - and (said in a whisper) the yeast cooperated and resulted in me dancing around the kitchen shouting "yeast, we might just be friends after all". It worked just as she said it would and within a few hours we had buns of love. Yes, buns of love covered in a deliciously light sweet glaze - it was almost too perfect.

Moral of the story is that it won't be these delicious cinnamon rolls that stand between you and yeast. If I can do it, anyone can. And oh the rewards you will reap.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

On Second Thought

I've already done the unthinkable and mentioned the impending season (f...a...l...l) and even the other f-word (no, not that one!!!)... football, so you might be expecting some great crockpot recipes coming from our kitchen but alas, as quickly as I mentioned fall, DC has turned the tide on our weather and make no mistake, it is absolutely still summer here. I, for one, am heartily embracing the 100+ degree weather and heat advisories - not that I've had much of a choice.

Thus when the mercury levels started their ascent and suddenly all the comments of "is this really a DC-August" went the way of "oh my gosh, it's hot here... and the humidity!!!" - I knew it was time for this recipe's appearance. Gazpacho and summer are synonymous, after all, right... but, almost too predictable - what with three over-grown tomato plants begging each and every morning to be relieved of some more of their weight, tomatoes have actually become my afternoon "fruit" snack at work (no complaining here - doesn't get much better than some chunks of deep red tomato scooped up with a few tears of garden-fresh basil).

Luckily (except for those of you here for a way to use up your own tomatoes - sorry!), this is anything but another predictable gazpacho recipe. Make this simple perfect-for-summer (and perfectly customizable) soup - I promise you won't miss the tomatoes; but don't say I didn't warn you when you can never look at a tomato-filled gazpacho recipe the same way again.

White Gazpacho Soup

3 medium cucumbers, peeled
1 clove garlic
3 c chicken broth
3 c sour cream
3 TBSP white wine vinegar
2 tsp salt

green onions, sliced on the bias
toasted almonds
tomatoes, small diced
fresh shrimp, finely chopped
crumbled bacon pieces

Cut cucumbers into chunks and blend a short while in your blender with a small amount of the chicken broth. Combine remaining ingredients in the blender and blend just enough to mix. Chill until ready to serve.

*blending in batches is recommended as the mixture will easily overflow

Friday, August 07, 2009

Just a Teaser

Because if nothing else, you know I'm good for a follow-up. Or maybe that should read: "if nothing else, I'm good for a follow-up from Deacon-land". There, much better.

Surely you even saw this coming... with my mention of the summer slipping away and football game-watching foods on the brain. Nice how that worked, huh - really, I'm not nearly that organized to have planned it out - although, I do wish I could claim to be!

But I do realize it's Friday and attention spans are understandably short - so I'll get to my point... this will not weary you in the least (has someone hi-jacked my blog... am I really quoting a movie?).

Aaron Curry... you possibly remember me singing this recent Wake grad's praises a few months ago when he got picked fourth in the NFL draft? Well, he's since moved up to Seattle to join and start practicing with his new team - and about a month ago, the Seahawks released an article that we Curry fans awaited with baited breath... would he live up to the hype?

Well, a quick scan of the article (yes, I eventually read the whole thing but was so nervous about the content that I couldn't do much more than scan it initially) told me everything I needed to know... heck, the title basically gave it away: "Exceeding Expectations".

In case you don't care to read the whole thing (what?! you aren't obsessed with the Deacons like I am?), I'm here to provide the highlights: (my emphasis added)

  • "Aaron Curry is every bit of a football player the Seahawks hoped he'd be, and much more."
  • “He’s a top-flight kid, and he will really add a lot to this organization both on and off the field,” coach Jim Mora said at the time. “It’s a heckuva pick for us. He’s the kind of guy that we like to draft, both as a football player and as a man.”
And with that fall football-season teaser (this weekend marks the first pre-season game, after all), I will turn back to my summer salads.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Better Late Than Never

I dare to even whisper this for fear it's true... but summer is on it's final legs (and there's not a darn thing I can do about it - I've tried, trust me).

With that in mind, and even though every ounce of me is screaming (and subsequently fighting off, at the same time) "football season" and thinking of game-watching foods such as dips or anything out of a crockpot, I'm resolutely staying on the path to delightfully bright-colored salads. Somehow I didn't get around to some of these earlier this summer so I'm doing my very best to make up for lost time.

For that procrastination, this Mediterranean Pepper Salad literally smacked me when I finally made it and said "as punishment, you will make me every week for the rest of your life" (and call me a rule-follower... I just had to oblige!). The only issue being the other 47+ summer salads I recently bookmarked; a challenge I'm happy to tackle - and the solution absolutely not including making this salad any less often.

*By the way, fear not ye who dislike anything olive - you must still make this and make it with olives. Now is not the time to turn a deaf ear - pick out the olives if you must after the salad has been mixed together but put those olives in, darn it!

Monday, August 03, 2009

I'd Tell This Story 100 Times

This story's been told... more than once. Girl comes of age, and chooses and enrolls in college; girl meets best friends who, four-years later, graduate and go their separate ways. Girl makes pact with said friends to gather annually and has just returned from year eight of the ongoing agreement. (ewh - we haven't, uh, really been out of school for eight years... we meet twice some years, yup - sure do!)

Yes, these scenes may look vaguely familiar... the faces sure do remain the same... but suffice it to say, it doesn't bother us in the slightest.

And while you might have your own very similar story (which I'd love to hear), there are a few things from our recent trip that you can't miss.

The Donut Hole. Sure, they serve more than donuts, but all you need are the donuts. Somehow we neglected to visit this watering hole on our last trip so I was up bright and early the first morning to avenge that loss.

Lucky for us, our Detroit resident put us all to shame (darn those Southern roots) and brought our hostess these lovely Sander's chocolates. And even luckier for us is that our hostess shared them with the rest of us.

Am I the only one who can barely drag herself out of bed on most weekday mornings? However, for whatever reason, when I flip the vacation switch, I can't sleep past 6:30am and am happily up and at 'em. This weekend was no different - I took walks to the beach each morning long before the rest of the house was awake and enjoyed the quiet of a normally bustling area.

These are the girls. THE girls who've seen me through just about everything since the day we met and donned the old gold and black. Not pictured (not invited, is more like it!) are two sweet babies (hi Harrison and Natalie!) and one on the way!

You guessed it! We don't pass up many chances to throw a shower. We took the opportunity to celebrate Baby (Boy Perkins) at the Beach with a surprise mini-shower for Missy and Stephen. We did our best to shower our soon-to-be favorite Perkins in some Deacon, smocked and even international garb. All in the name of getting the little guy's mom used to all-things blue!

I was happy to man the kitchen for our traditional dinner in (truth be told, I think we'd rather stay in and cook then hit a beach-front joint). We enjoyed some peel-and-eat shrimp, a yummy green salad, and some delicious roasted and herbed potatoes. With perfect timing (ha!), we decided to take our requisite timer-picture after dinner and I'm fairly certain if you look close enough (thanks, Katie, for the picture!), I have some left-over rosemary or thyme in my teeth! Nothing new there... it wouldn't be a weekend with Kara if I hadn't worried about having food in my teeth.

Hopefully while you were examining the picture above, you weren't blinded by the shine off my forehead (and nose and chin...). Thank goodness for eight-plus years with these ladies, they are used to my lack of tact (and make-up and style, for that matter). And speaking of that, I couldn't be more thankful for these girls.

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