03 September 2011

Labor Day - Wishful Thinking

This weekend is Labor Day weekend and although my poor little guy is nowhere near cooked enough, I can't help but wish this was my literal labor day.  It still seems eye-boggling to me that I have three more months, well I guess we're around two-and-a-half now.  Still!  UGH!  Cook already and let's eat!!  hmph.

Anyhooser, this is my belly now.  Large and in charge. (please excuse the creepy grin from the first photo - not sure about it...)

21 August 2011


I don't think I have ever spoken about my connection with the local MOPS group.  I was introduced to MOPS last summer, after just moving to Savannah.  I was lonely and tired and spent every single day entertaining my 2 year-old, who was my best friend.  I was also constantly second-guessing myself as a Mom, not really having any mom friends to compare with.  We desperately needed something.  One day at the local park a mother approached me and asked if I had ever heard of MOPS and I had not.  MOPS means Mothers of Preschoolers, but it is an organization for all Moms of infants through Kindergartners.  I was nervous and worried at first about going to meetings, but then I realized that I was sitting in a room FULL of women who were nothing like me and yet going through exactly the same thing.  We had fun; we made crafts; we listened to speakers about different issues; and we made a ton of friends.  I could talk about all of the facets of motherhood and realize that no one had it all figured out.  We all just needed each other to be better mothers.  It was an amazing discovery. 

For any of you moms out there that could use this type of support (or just want to hang out with people that get it), please please please find your local MOPS group.  You can find more information about MOPS, but going to MOPS.com and you can find a local group by clicking here.  If you're in the Wilmington Island or Tybee Island area, you can visit our local MOPS website here.

Ok, plug over.

12 August 2011

Smitten Kitchen

Yeah, so excuse me if this becomes a one-stop shop for my recipes and projects that I want to accomplish, but I must continue to re-post things that amaze and wow me.  Such as these Blueberry Yogurt Multigrain Pancakes by Smitten Kitchen(Click on the link to be taken to the Smitten Kitchen blog, and while you're there look around and/or subscribe to their amazingness.)

blueberry yogurt multigrain pancakes

new blues: wholegrain blueberry pancakes

I had a little crisis on Father’s Day, and unlike the week that proceeded it, it did not relate to a feverish toddler who landed himself in our bed (and proceeded to be well enough at 5 a.m. to stand up and announce the different parts of our face as he poked them “NO” “EYEAR” “AYE” “MOUF”), the gutting of our (single) bathroom so that plumbers could access a wayward pipe in the building or the thin film of dirt left on every surface of every room when they were done working. No, by Father’s Day, most of those things had thankfully righted themselves, leaving only crises of less grave proportions: the blueberry pancakes I’d always known and loved no longer worked for me.

all ready to go

batter, berries, separate

I mean, they work, in terms of technically executing what they’re supposed to. They’re a bit runnier than I remembered, thus making it difficult to flip and bake them through cleanly, but they’re hardly worth complaining over, or so felt the Dad of Honor who found them–as he is contractually obligated to–delicious. We ate our pancakes, showered him with gifts and set off for the playground. But I couldn’t stop thinking about them; they didn’t sit right and I realized that it had less to do with the recipe and more to do with … me. I’ve changed.

studded with blueberries


Suddenly, using all white flour in a breakfast baked good felt a little funny. I’m not saying I’ve sworn it off — heavens, no! — but once you figure out ways to tuck more grains into baked goods without compromising their flavor, it’s hard not to do so regularly. And buttermilk, lordy, I love buttermilk. But I don’t always have it around and yet I always have yogurt around. And doesn’t yogurt somehow seem more fitting for breakfast? New decade, new pancake, I concluded. I would embrace change!

kept warm in the oven

And so on Monday, long after the last blueberry pancake had been inhaled (I told you we liked them), I got back to work and these, these are my jam, um, I mean, the kind of blueberry pancakes I’m more enthusiastic about these days. Two grain flours a big helping of plain yogurt and absolutely no compromise on flavor, texture or deliciousness, especially when draped with maple syrup. Loads of it. What? I never said I ate pancakes like a grown-up, did I?

blueberry yogurt pancakes

Blueberry Yogurt Multigrain Pancakes                                                        Makes 12 to 14 4-inch pancakes

2 large eggs
1 cup plain, full-fat yogurt
2 to 4 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons butter, plus extra for buttering skillet
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (62 grams) whole wheat flour
1/2 cup (68 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (32 grams) barley or rye flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup blueberries, rinsed and dried

Melt half of butter. Remove from heat and stir in second tablespoon of butter until melted. This keeps your butter from being too hot when you next want to add it to the wet ingredients.
Whisk egg and yogurt together in the bottom of a medium/large bowl. If you’re using a thin yogurt, no need to add any milk. If you’re using regular yogurt, stir in 2 tablespoons milk. If you’re using a thick/strained or Greek-style yogurt, add 3 to 4 tablespoons milk. Whisk in melted butter, zest and vanilla extract. In a separate, small bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir dry ingredients into wet only until dry ingredients are moistened. A few remaining lumps is fine.

Preheat your oven to 200°F and have a baking sheet ready (to keep pancakes warm). Heat your skillet or saute pan to medium. If you’ve got a cast-iron skillet, this is my favorite for pancakes. Melt a pat of butter in the bottom and ladle a scant 1/4 cup (about 3 tablespoons) batter at a time, leaving at space between each pancake. Press a few berries into the top of each pancake. The batter is on the thick side, so you will want to use your spoon or spatula to gently nudge it flat, or you may find that pressing down on the berries does enough to spread the batter. When the pancakes are dry around the edges and you can see bubbles forming on the top, about 3 to 4 minutes, flip them and cook for another 3 minutes, until golden underneath. (If you listen closely, after a minute you’ll hear you blueberries pop and sizzle deliciously against the pan.) If pancakes begin cooking too quickly, lower the heat. Transfer pancakes to warm oven as they are done cooking, where you can leave them there until you’re ready to serve them.

Serve in a big stack, with fixings of your choice. Do not anticipate leftovers.

One Big Happy Table

While at the MOPs Convention, I took a Hot Topics course in Food Family Style by Leigh Vickery.  She has a new blog that I began following as well and this most recent post was so charming and sweet.  Plus if I don't make every one of those recipes soon, I might die of my cravings.  Stop by her blog at One Big Happy Table.

The South’s Odd Couple

August 10, 2011  |  AllGood BooksGood PeopleRecipesWritings
Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock. Photo by Christopher Hirscheimer.

I knew him first by his fried chicken, which was enough for me to know Scott Peacock had to be a good man.
What I didn’t know for some time was where he learned to make this fried chicken, the one that begins with two brine and buttermilk soaks and ends in a skillet of hot lard, butter and bits of country ham. At his former Decatur, Ga., restaurant, Watershed, this glorious chicken left me with no doubt God is a chef, and He is definitely from the South. Praise the Lard.
Like so many of us, Peacock developed his gift of Southern cooking by following someone around the kitchen. His muse was the extraordinary Edna Lewis.
Miss Lewis, as he called her until the day she died, was the granddaughter of freed slaves. She was born in 1916 in Freetown, Va., escaping the Depression and her dead-end world when she was 15 to try and find work in New York City. She was fired from
her first job – ironing – in three hours.
But somehow she survived, cooking for her friends for fun while trying to make a living as a seamstress and window dresser.
It didn’t take long for the Big Apple to realize that the roast chicken and caramel cake Miss Lewis made was something they had been missing their whole lives. In 1948, antique dealer John Nicholson announced to Miss Lewis that he was opening a restaurant, and she would be his partner.
Café Nicholson was an instant success, drawing New Yorkers and Southern transplants such as Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner and Truman Capote to its tables night after night. There was no menu; Miss Lewis wowed them with what her hands knew by heart – classic Southern cooking.
As the years passed and Miss Lewis moved on from the café, her fame spread back home. It was on one of these trips back to the South to cook for others that she met Peacock, who begged her to let him help make some pies for an Atlanta food event.
And so their friendship began.
Peacock is a white man from Alabama. Miss Lewis was a black woman from Virginia. But their relationship was not one you could pull from the pages of “The Help,” Kathryn Stockett’s fascinating look into mid—1960s Mississippi and the layers of racism that wasted the lives of many good people, both black and white.
Peacock and Miss Lewis were simply friends, drawn together through a common passion for cooking. She taught him that creativity often meant stripping away the excess in cooking, allowing the strong flavors of the South to stand on their own. The two of them joined to write the beautiful book, “The Gift of Southern Cooking,” a volume every Southern cook would do well to own.
Eventually, the two became family to each other, with Miss Lewis helping Peacock figure out who he was as a person through some tough times. And in the end, it was Peacock who took Miss Lewis in and cared for her from 1999 until she passed away in 2006.
Somehow, over talks about shrimp and grits, turtle soup and bourbon-pecan pie, two people discovered that the only skin worth talking about was the one on the chicken in the cast-iron skillet.
If you can find 20 minutes, I think you’ll enjoy “Fried Chicken and Sweet Potato Pie,” a short documentary about Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock. After the video, I’ve included their famous recipe, “Southern Pan-Fried Chicken,” as well as a few more favorites perfect for supper before opening night of “The Help.” The runaway best-seller hits the big screens today.
Southern Pan-Fried Chicken
One 3-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces, brined* for 8 to 12 hours
1 quart buttermilk
1 pound lard
l stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup country-ham pieces, or 1 thick slice country ham cut into 1/2 inch strips
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
To prepare the chicken for frying: Drain the brined chicken and rinse out the bowl it was brined in. Return the chicken to the bowl, and pour the buttermilk over. Cover and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours. Drain the chicken on a wire rack, discarding the
Meanwhile, prepare the fat for frying by putting the lard, butter, and country ham into a heavy skillet or frying pan. Cook over low heat for 30 to 45 minutes, skimming as needed, until the butter ceases to throw off foam and the country ham is
browned. Use a slotted spoon to remove the ham carefully from the fat. (The ham pieces can be saved and used to make Smoked Pork Stock) Just before frying, increase the temperature to medium-high and heat the fat to 335°F (170°C).
Prepare the dredge by blending together the flour, cornstarch, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl or on wax paper. Dredge the drained chicken pieces thoroughly in the flour mixture, then pat well to remove all excess flour.
Slip some of the chicken pieces, skin side down, into the heated fat. (Do not overcrowd the pan, and fry in batches if necessary.) Cook for 8 to 10 minutes on each side, until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through. Drain thoroughly on a wire rack or
on crumpled paper towels, and serve.
Fried chicken is delicious eaten hot, warm, at room temperature, or cold. *Brining, that is, soaking it in a saltwater solution before cooking, serves a twofold purpose: it helps the flesh retain moisture and seasons it all the way through. To make the
brine, stir kosher salt into cold water until dissolved, in the proportion of 1/4 cup salt to 1 quart of water. (Don’t use table salt in this formula, by the way; it will be too salty). Mix enough brine to cover the poultry or meat completely in a (non-reactive) bowl or pot. Store refrigerated 8 to 12 hours for poultry.
Scott Peacock’s Buttermilk Biscuits
5 cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour (measured after sifting)
1 tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoons homemade baking powder or purchased baking powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed lard or butter, chilled
2 cups chilled buttermilk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Heat oven to 500°F. In a large bowl whisk together flour, homemade baking powder, and kosher salt. Add lard, coating in flour. Working quickly, rub lard between fingertips until roughly half the lard is coarsely blended and half remains in large pieces, about ¾ inch.
Make a well in center of flour mixture. Add buttermilk all at once. With a large spoon stir mixture quickly, just until it is blende and begins to mass and form a sticky dough. (If dough appears dry, add 1 to 2 tablespoons additional buttermilk.)
Immediately turn dough onto generously floured surface. Using floured hands, knead briskly 8 to 10 times until cohesive ball of dough forms. Gently flatten dough with hands to even thickness. Using floured rolling pin, lightly roll dough to ¾-inch thickness.
Using a dinner fork dipped in flour, pierce dough completely through at ½-inch intervals. Flour a 2 ½- or 3-inch biscuit cutter. Stamp out rounds and arrange on heavy parchment-lined baking sheet. Add dough pieces, as-is, to baking sheet.
Place on rack in upper third of oven. Bake 8 to 12 minutes until crusty and golden brown. Remove. Brush with melted butter. Serve hot.
Makes 12 to 16 biscuits.
Demetrie’s Chocolate Pie
Kathryn Stockett, author of “The Help”
1-2/3 cups water
5 tablespoons sweetened cocoa powder, such as Ghirardelli
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 9-inch pie shell, prebaked plain or graham cracker
Whipped cream (or if it’s not too humid, you can top with meringue)
Shaved chocolate to sprinkle on top, for looks
In a medium sized, cool saucepan, mix water, cocoa, and cornstarch with a whisk until all the lumps are gone, making a paste. Stir in condensed milk and egg yolks. Heat to just under a boil and stir until it’s thick. Reduce heat to low and stir in butter. Add in your good vanilla, and keep stirring well. Turn off the heat and let it cool some. Pour into a prebaked pie shell, store-bought if that’s how you do things.
Let the pie set-up in a cool spot, like a plug-in refrigerator, covering with wax paper so you don’t get a skin.
Dollop cream on top or top with meringue. Yield: 1 9 inch pie, 6-8 servings

08 August 2011

Twice as Good

I feel led to really let it known how much I absolutely love and adore my husband.  No, its not our anniversary.  No, he really hasn't done anything special.  No, I am not trying to score a new diamond. (although I would not shun an iPad...)  I have just been given a huge gift by some people very close to me.  The gift of being able to see him.  He is so good.  There is no malcontent or wrongness in him whatsoever.  He is just so blessedly good. It has been bringing tears to my eyes for days when I think on him.  Pure goodness.  This song is for you, love.

(Note: You'll have to pause the playlist to the right before you can play the video.  Otherwise, mind scramble.)

01 August 2011

How to Grow Your Own Food if You’re a Renter by Green Your Decor

How to Grow Your Own Food if You’re a Renter

As many of you know, Marc and I are (it seems) always going to be renters.  The one thing we have always wanted is a garden.  When we close our eyes and visit our happy place, it generally includes a garden with fresh vegetables, fruit, and herbs that we can sweat in and feed our family.  That and traveling around Austria. It's becoming alarmingly clear that neither of these dreams will happen any time soon.  Therefore, we have taken matters into our own teeny apartment hands and created our own container garden.  Most neighbors look at our patio as a cluttered dump because of the debris caused by large tomato plants and teeny tiny patio.  No matter, we will continue this small slice of bliss until we are able to live inside our dream.  (Which looks oddly similar to your house, Bill and Michelle!)

If any of you are like us, this post by Green Your Decor will definitely help stir some ideas in your brain on how to accomplish it easily and without much money.

Read on.

31 July 2011

Somehow Only Six Months...

One thing I have not been very good about this time around is taking pictures of the baby bump and keeping up with my journal. (Not that I kept up with a journal the first time around. At least I'm consistent.)

Marc's Grandpa Ed is almost 93 years old and he is a spry, lucid 93.  Every time I see him I am amazed that he's still going so strong.  Unfortunately, he was admitted into the hospital a few days ago for high blood pressure (just decided he didn't want to take his medication anymore) and after a few days in the hospital, the decision was to send him to a home in Melbourne, FL where he will be close to family.  I've had pictures printed out that I've been meaning to send him and now I feel a sudden urge to hurry.  I also wanted to include a picture of the latest bump so he can see how big Baby Boy Woodstuff is getting.

At any rate, since I was taking photos for him, I thought I would post one here so I can sort of feel like I'm keeping a journal.  I've been feeling a lot better lately - Finally!  I'm tired, of course, but the all-around head fog and nauseousness are gone.  I feel huge, though, so when I saw the photos I took tonight, I thought - that's it?!  Man, I feel like a really large and really tight ball all the time.  Its amazing that its actually just a really small, tight ball.  My face is not small, however, and gaining in size.  One of my least favorite side effects of pregnancy.  Let's imagine for a minute what it will look like at nine months.  Ew, nevermind. Yuck!

11 July 2011

Renter's Paradise

I'm sure many or most of you have at one time or another heard me complain about or otherwise be embarrassed of my apartment.  I'm 31.  I'm a wife and a mother of nearly two kids and I've never owned a home.  It makes me feel small and inadequate and a completely fake adult.

This makes me feel better.  A little...


Book Reviews

I've read quite a few books already this summer (don't ask me what I'm escaping from) and have a few that I really think are worth mentioning.  Most are great reads about finding out about yourself, which I'm really into these days.

The Linen Queen, by Patricia Falvey
First is a book set in Northern Ireland during WWII.  A beautiful woman dreams of leaving Ireland and finding something better, even if it means being selfish.  Before she can follow her dream, however, the war finds its way to her town.

Heart of the Matter, by Emily Griffin (author of Something Borrowed)
This book follows two very different women, save for the fact that they are both mothers.  One is married to a successful pediatric surgeon the other is a single mother.  They both have to take a good look at their own heart and make serious, painful decisions about love.  This book was difficult for me to read, only because I couldn't relate to both sides, only the one.  It was heart-wrenching, yet eye-opening.  It makes you take a good look at your own heart.

21 June 2011

The Raising, Laura Kasischke - A Rant

Please allow me to critique rant about this book.  Oh. My. Goodgrief!  

Bone #1: Writing Style.  She was all over the place.  I know this is a modern style that new authors are adopting, but it only works if you're going to place it all together at some point, which never happens here.  She jostles between two different time periods (one year apart, not enough to really tell the difference) while you try to understand what clues or insinuations she's leaving for you.  Well, don't bother.  They lead to nothing, you may have even made up any insinuations in your head because she certainly doesn't explain them at any point.

Bone #2: Lead-ins, outside figures.  Too many times to count during her back and forth writing did she bring in outside figures that she insinuated or outright told you had bigger plots and that would later become understood or would later become central to the main characters.  No.  They're what, just filler, I guess?  For instance, she brings up the littler brother often and insinuates that he has information regarding the relationship of their parents and why they divorce and comes back to it often with more clues only to never talk about it again after you've spent countless minutes trying to figure it out.  What was the point?!  

Bone #3 and the most important: Interminably long and intriguing story only to reveal NOTHING.  After 496 pages of chaos and trying to keep up with her bouncing around and all of these clues and insinuations, the damn woman ends the book with a frickin goose egg.  When it comes time to empty the pockets of secret knowledge, she refuses.  Not in a classy 'I'll leave it up to you to decide' way, but truly even the effing characters don't know what happened to them!  WTF?!  She ends the story 15 years in the future with the characters still without the answers they tried so desperately to find for however many chapters.  Just tooling around in life still wondering because they didn't have the guts to go through with their investigation.  She made every single one of them a toolbag.

So why all the words?  What new kind of writing style is this that leaves your readers wanting to strangle you?  Why BOTHER?!  Ugh.  What a waste.  So dang good for 490 pages, truly disturbing hypotheses are formed with all of the clues, then six pages of "Ha! Got you.  Bet you thought I had some really good plot on hand."

This is one review I read online by Renee C. Fountain from Book Fetish: "However, the answers aren’t so forthcoming. Midway through the book, the suspense peaks and is ripe for the reveal; unfortunately, things are dragged out for another 150 pages. By the time the story is summed up, patience has long expired and instead of a going out in a blaze of glory, The Raising seems to simply dissipate in a puff of smoke. "