Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

We had fun carving our pumpkin last night! I'm so glad we did because it looks like the weather today is going to be awful!

 
His nose turned out a little crooked - no stencils here!

 
I think he turned our appropriately friendly and scary.


 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

New Orleans

Residency interviews are suddenly here! It's both exciting and scary to think we could be moving this summer. And I seem to flip-flop about how I feel about it! Ryan had his first interview at Tulane last week and we made a quick trip to New Orleans. He was a little stressed but I enjoyed it!

 
We stayed at Le Pavillon on Poydras Street. We had a great view of the Super Dome from our room.

 
The rooftop was gorgeous with a pool and hot tub and great views of the city.

 
We ate at Jacques-Imos on Oak Street with a group of other M4s and Tulane residents. I (surprisingly) loved the shrimp, sausage and alligator cheesecake appetizer.

 
The hotel has a late-night tradition of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and hot chocolate in the lobby at 10 p.m. - it was a great snack!


I had all day Friday to tool around - I spent the morning in the French Quarter and then took the street car up St. Charles to the Garden District.

 
 
Breakfast at Café Du Monde - couldn't resist. I did have to wait 30 minutes in the take-out line but it was worth it!

 
I love the street artists in the French Quarter. I was surprised at how many people there were everywhere!


 
I ate lunch at St. James Cheese Company in Uptown and had the gruyere sandwich.
 
 
One interview down and about 10 to go! 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Boating

Ryan bought a jon boat on Craigslist a few weeks ago - he's worked on it just about every night (it was a little leaky!) and we took it out this weekend for the first time! Sunday afternoon was a beautiful fall day - even if the fish weren't biting.


 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Martha Stewart has People

The last two weekends I've tried a Martha Stewart recipe. Last weekend I made these pig-in-a-blankets for the Grove. I recruited Mom and Ryan to help me stuff 1/2 teaspoon of caramelized chopped onions into the miniature winnies. They both quit in protest that it was too ridiculous to be stuffing miniature any-things! Mom reminded me that Martha Stewart has people and I, apparently, do not!

So this weekend I decided to try a new dessert - Mississippi Mud Pie. I'm reading J.K. Rowlings' "The Casual Vacancy" and one of the characters picks up a Mississippi Mud Pie for a disastrous dinner party. I found it interesting that in England they know about Mississippi Mud Pie. I figured it was just a regional thing! But guess what? Martha Stewart also knows about it and has a very complicated recipe! As in I used seven bowls and 10 eggs. And my kitchen looked like a war zone with the bowls fighting for counter space against the spatulas and whisks. (In the end, the dishwasher swooped in and won, in case you're wondering!).

 
As you can see, the dogs enjoyed helping me clean up! Martha's Mississippi Mud Pie involves making an Oreo cookie crust, a flourless chocolate cake, a chocolate pudding and whipped cream. Muy complicado! But it was good and fun to make!
 
Here's the comparison of mine to Martha's - I think I need a little more practice!
 
 
 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Caramel Icing

Did you know some people prefer non-chocolate desserts? That will always be a mystery to me. But non-chocolate cake eaters exist, and two of them happen to be my father and brother-in-law! So last weekend I made each of them a caramel birthday cake - recipe kindly provided by Net's bridge partner Martha Slocum. Jason, my brother-in-law, had one of her caramel cakes years ago and has talked about it ever since!

I've now made this cake three times, and it's definitely one of those recipes that takes a little practice. This method of caramel is called burnt sugar icing and is the old-fashioned/Southern way to make caramel icing. I told Net that I think I would have enjoyed science more in high school if it had been explained in terms of cooking. I don't understand the science behind this recipe, but it's all about getting the ingredients to the right temperatures and watching the sugar go from a solid to a liquid and then back to somewhere in between!

 
Start both pots (iron skillet and Dutch oven) at the same time. In the iron skillet put in 1/2 cup of sugar. In the Dutch oven put 1/2 pint of xxx cream (heavy cream) and 2 cups of sugar.

 
Stirring constantly, heat the sugar until it turns into hard brown clumps and then into liquid - it will be a medium, nutty brown color.

 
Take care to mash up all the clumps using the back of a spatula - they won't go away later!

 
Once the sugar is a brown liquid, add one stick of oleo (NOT butter). Stir to combine.


 
At this point your Dutch oven mixture should be at a full boil. Add in the sugar/oleo mixture.

 
Keep stirring until it gets to the soft ball stage. This is about 240 degrees or you should be able to drop a little of the icing in a cup of cold water and be able to roll it into a soft ball with your fingers.


 
The icing will start to thicken. If it gets too thick, add a bit of cream or warm water. It's important to have your cakes ready to ice before beginning. I've found that once the caramel icing is ready you have to work quick to keep it from getting hard!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Top 10 from the Weekend

There are so many things I loved about this weekend - which we made stretch from Thursday night through Monday! We spent time in Senatobia and Oxford and Ryan got to work on his new duck blind in Marks.

1. Seeing Elizabeth Magee and her "baby sis-ters" as she calls them. EM has developed a very cute little Alabama accent. Poppy and Mary Thorne are crawling and sitting up! Poppy prefers crawling and Mary Thorne sitting up.

 
 
2. Seeing my parents - they've been out of town and I've missed them so much! Somehow Dad missed our photo shoot - we were on our way to the Grove! Fortunately we were in the shuttle when the rain started and then waited it out under a porch behind the alumni house. Can you tell it was a wear blue game day?

 

 
3. Seeing old friends - we caught up with John but Eryn and Avery had already left. These two have been friends since they were two!

 
4. Being in the Grove. I just love it. It's been at least two years since we've made it to a game. Poppy looks miserable here, but she cheered up right away! The Grove was packed and muddy!


 
 
5. The game. What a game! Bryan and Becca were so sweet to give us their two extra tickets! We missed seeing Becca, Martin and Livi but loved getting to catch up with Bryan. The game was so good and I think it was the most exciting 4th quarter I've seen! Even though we lost.


 
6. The band. It wouldn't be football without a marching band - The Pride of the South! I think I like watching the band as much as the football.

 
7. Oxford is such a wonderful place. Ryan and Oliver both left Sunday morning and I stayed to play. After church at College Hill and a long walk we took the girls to the pumpkin patch at St. Peter's. We celebrated afterwards with frozen yogurt from Ya-Ya's on the Square.

 

(This was from the blooper reel.)
 
8. Cooking with Net. On Monday I baked birthday cakes at Net's house. I love her kitchen! After her hand mixer went out, she pulled out this one that Granddaddy gave her for their first anniversary- 60 years ago!

 
9. "Big Girl" Poppy, Oliver's grandmother, came to Senatobia on Monday to see the girls. How great is it to have great-grandmothers?

 
10. We celebrated Jason's birthday on Monday night with a dinner at Ryan's parent's house. We got home at midnight last night but had a great time!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Noonday Collection

Have you heard of Noonday Collection? I went to a trunk show at a friend's house a few weeks ago and have loved the apron I ordered! The company creates entrepreneurial opportunities for people living in countries with few resources - Uganda, Ethiopia, Ecuador, etc.


This is the Mary Sunshine Apron and was made in Rwanda.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Personal Pan Pizzas

We have a wonderful Friday night tradition of eating pizza and watching Shark Tank with DeeDee and John Eric. We switch off hosting and vary from Pizza Shack to frozen pizza for our main meal. Sometimes we have a salad. We were all filling too lazy on Friday to worry with being healthy!


This week we changed it up and had personal pan pizzas with Maria Pia's pizza dough recipe - Maria Pia is a family friend from Italy and my mom copied down this recipe when she and Dad were visiting Maria and Alberto in Celline a couple of years ago.

3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup water
3 T beer
2 pks yeast
2 tsp of sugar
2 tsp of salt

Put flour in a bowl. Stir together water, beer, yeast, sugar, and salt. Slowly add liquid mixture to flour, stirring constantly with wooden spoon. Mix with hands. Put out on a wooden floured board and roll and kneed into a good ball for about 4 minutes.


Wet a kitchen towel and place over dough in bowl and place on a warm oven to rise (or just turn on stove top light). Let rise about an hour.

 
Divide into four pieces. Put each piece on a pan that has been lightly oiled. Roll out using a small hand roller.
 
Place pans on stove and cover with plate and leave for a second rising for about half an hour.
 

Chop up some of your favorite pizza toppings - we had red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, onion, red onion, garlic, olives, pepperoni, feta and cheddar cheese and pizza sauce.

 
Top with your favorite ingredients and bake at 425 for about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. We ate straight out of the pans - making cleaning up very easy!
 
 
It helps to have a happy baby around to supervise the grown-ups!