Thursday, September 30, 2010

Peanut Butter Cookies

I have to share this recipe because it's so old school. Mom bought the cookbook at a garage sale in the 60s before she met and married Dad. It's a classic.



As you can see, I've upped the flour in the cookies. Peanut butter today is much changed from 50 years ago. It has oil blended into it; without the extra flour the cookies are too runny and don't bake properly. 

We baked a double batch on Sunday for Mom. T loves to do the criss-crossing. :)


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

End of an Era at the Farm

Our favorite goat died last week. Her name was Celeste and she was full of personality. The grass was always greener on the other side of the fence to Celeste, and even this summer (in spite of the fact that she was 14 or 15 years old, very old for a goat), she was still jumping the fence out of her pasture, just because she could.

Here's a little photo tribute to her
2004
also 2004, with her twin kids, Zeus and Zelda
in 2006 with Aflac the duck

It's the first time since 1977 that Mom doesn't have a Nubian goat in the barn. She does still have Nicodemus, he's a pygmy wether, and a bunch (four?) of cats, who seem to be looking after her a little in the absence of their bigger animal friends.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What Are Your Favorite Apps & Add-Ins?

With our new fancy smart phones, we're learning all about apps, and I have long been a fan of desktop/Windows apps and add-ins. I didn't realize how much I loved and used Rapportive until their server was upgraded last week and the service went offline. Rapportive is an add-in for gmail (it works with the google-based Case mail as well, FYI for my CWRU friends) that shows you the social networks of the people who email with. It pulls up their profile picture, and if they're on Twitter, their last 3 or so tweets. And it takes the place of the ads that usually run down the right hand column in gmail. It's a win-win.

It's also great when you get a new Twitter follower, because you don't have to visit Twitter to learn more about the person; you can see their tweets right there.

Here's a picture from their website that shows you how it looks. It's super handy, and if you use gmail, I highly recommend it.


What are your favorite apps and add-ins?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pulled Pork

Chris has a shiny new smoker and Sunday was the day to christen it, with a Boston butt for pulled pork.
the new smoker
First we brined the pork all day Saturday. We took it out of the brine after the game, dried it and applied a rub. It then went back in the fridge over night.


Sunday morning, Chris fired up the smoker bright and early, at 7:30am. Here's how it looked after a few hours:


Meanwhile, in the house, T and I put together some homemade barbecue sauce and left it to slow-cook for the afternoon.

At 2pm the meat was done. C brought it in and wrapped it in foil to rest for half an hour. Then he and T snuck a taste.


After it cooled enough, Chris pulled all the pork. 

And then we put part of it in the barbecue sauce.

And finally we ate! YUM!! Pulled pork sandwiches, cole slaw and fruit salad. 

Here are the recipes.

Brine (from Alton Brown)
8 ounces (3/4 cup) molasses
12 ounces pickling salt (by weight)
2 quarts water

Combine molasses, salt and water in a large container. Add the Boston butt (6-8 pounds recommended, ours was 8 1/2), making sure it is completely submerged in brine, cover, and let sit in refrigerator for a minimum of 8 hours. 12 hours is ideal.

Rub (also from Alton Brown)
1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
1 teaspoon whole fennel seed
1 teaspoon whole coriander
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon onion powder
1 Tablespoon paprika

Place cumin seed, fennel seed, and coriander in food grinder and grind fine. (I used our coffee grinder.) Transfer to a small mixing bowl and stir in chili powder, onion powder and paprika.

Sauce (from Paul James old show on HGTV)
1 1/2 cups ketchup
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Grilled Veggies Recipe

We grill veggies all the time, and this is one of our favorite methods. I hesitate to call it a recipe because it's so simple!

Ingredients
1 pound bag of your favorite frozen veggies, thawed
1/2 teaspoon vegetable base Better Than Bouillon
2 Tablespoons of water
a grill-safe pan (We use and re-use 10" square disposable tin-foil cake pans. When it starts to fall apart, we get a new one out. They're more sturdy than you'd expect; we usually get 8-10 trips to the grill out of each one.)
cooking spray (like Pam, we use the Publix brand one labeled olive oil)


Spray the bottom of the pan with a little non-stick cooking spray. Drain any water off the veggies and dump them in the pan. In a small bowl, stir the bouillon concentrate into the water, then drizzle the mixture all over the veggies. 

Grill over medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the veggies are cooked to your liking. 

Then serve and enjoy! We use all kinds of mixed vegetable combinations, so feel free to experiment!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Music: Steel Train's Bullet

The 80s are alive and well, at least musically. This song (recently released) sounds to me like a cross between old school Bruce Springsteen and the fictional band POP from the movie Music and Lyrics. So, of course, I love it. Thanks Morganster!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Happy Birthday Alpha Chi Omega at CWRU

Today, September 24th, marks the 27th anniversary of the installation of Zeta Upsilon chapter at Case Western Reserve University. Here is the lovely house ZY has called home since 1993.


Alpha Chi has given me many gifts over the years but the most irreplaceable ones are my chapter sisters, my forever friends, several of whom were in my new member class, pictured in the next 2 photos, and the women we recruited to ZY the during the following years. (I have much love for the women I advised at ZY too; I'll have to do another post on them and those years soon. And, of course, membership in Alpha Chi leads to friends from chapters all over the country, many of whom have touched my life and made me a better person, but today's ZY's birthday so we'll save them for another day too! xoxo)

Here we are at First Degree of Initiation in the Spartan Room in Thwing. 
And here we are at Second Degree of Initiation, the following January, at Dr. Kessler's house.
2 years later, at the Homecoming Football game.
At a quad event that same year. Yes, balloons make everything more fun!
In addition to Zeta Upsilon, our ZY alumnae chapter, also celebrates its birthday today too. Happy 6th to Mu Tau Mu. It was one of our best crazy ideas ever. Many thanks to the wonderful women pictured here (and those not) who have made MTM so much fun and such a success. Love you!

Quick Green Chili

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer November 21, 2007 (the day before Thanksgiving), this recipe is fresh and healthy while also being filling and almost addicting. For example, we had to eat before I could take this photo of the finished product... so you're looking at the leftovers. :)

Quick Green Chili
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
5 sweet Italian precooked sausages (12-ounce package), cut into small chunks (we use chicken sausage)
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken or turkey
5 medium tomatillos, husks removed, washed and diced
2 Tablespoons pickled jalapeño pepper slices, diced
half of a 12-ounce bottle pale ale beer
2 cups chicken broth
14-ounce can navy or other white beans (we use cannellini), drained
5-ounce package baby spinach leaves
juice from 1 lime
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, cumin, paprika, chili powder and oregano. Sauté until the onion is just tender, about 3-4 minutes.

Add the sausage and ground turkey. Sauté another 10 minutes or until the sausage and turkey begin to brown. Add the tomatillos, jalapeños, and half of the beer. (Drink the other half.) :)

Bring to a simmer, and cook until the beer has mostly reduced, about 2 minutes. Add the broth and beans and return to a simmer. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the spinach and stir until wilted, about 5 minutes.

Remove the chili from the heat and stir in the lime juice and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes 6 servings; freezes well.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Kitchen, Cupcakes and More

Some updates on this week's projects. First, in the kitchen, I picked up the replacement chandelier and Chris installed it! And it looks great!! I'll return the bent one this morning.

Ta-da!
Tuesday I blogged about my plans to participate in the Paint It Purple blog party. I'm really excited that Jenn, Britain and Peyton will join the fun. Jenn, as usual, had brilliant ideas! We are going to bake on Thursday, decorate the cupcakes Friday (maybe with the help of the Alpha Chi collegians at FSU) and then deliver the cupcakes to Refuge House, our local DV shelter/agency so the staff and residents can enjoy them! Look for our blog posts on Saturday, October 2nd!


In other news, I've had a semi-famous week. Tuesday I was featured on the AXO Florida State alumnae and collegians blog - see the post here: http://axofloridastate.blogspot.com/2010/09/amy-zoldak-zeta-upsilon-alumna-honorary.html. Wednesday, our plumbers posted a link to my blog post about their last visit on their facebook page http://www.facebook.com/McNeillPlumbing?v=wall Makes me wonder what might happen today.... hmmm. :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Kitchen Project Update - Electrical

Lots of excitement today in the kitchen, with as is now the routine, a bit of disappointment thrown in. The electricians installed all the lights, outlets and switches today, as well as the microwave.

Here's the baking section - all done now except for the glass in the one door there, fhe drawer in the dropped counter (rolling area) section, and some paint touch-ups. It's so exciting having the microwave installed!

Another view (in this one you can see the drawer we're missing). Notice also all the nice outlets.

All the outlets are installed, including this one in the back door end of the island. Cantaloupe anyone?

All the recessed lights are finished and look great. Here are two.

A close up of one of the recessed lights:

And here is where the disappointment comes in - the chandelier is up - but it is bent. See how the light on the left is not level with the others? You'll notice we are also two glass "globes" short - they broke en route so we have 2 little boxes full of tiny shards. The good news is that the vendor has another one at the store so we don't have to wait three weeks for the replacement to arrive. I'll pick it up on Wednesday and we'll swap it out ourselves. Stay tuned for photos as this is obviously a work in progress!

Next up for me, spackling, caulking and painting!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Paint It Purple Cupcake Blog Party

Who wants to join me for a blog party on October 2nd? Pixel Project is hosting a blog series of parties, public, private and virtual, calling for an end to violence against women. Here are the details:


Hey bloggers! Help us kick off the ‘Paint It Purple’ campaign by contributing a blogpost featuring:
  • A snapshot of YOUR version of the ‘Paint It Purple’ cupcake
  • Your YouTube PSA for our Wall of Support (while you wear a purple shirt!)
  • Your cupcake recipe!
Post that blogpost on 2 October 2010 to coincide with our global “Paint It Purple” parties to kick off Domestic Violence Awareness Month and send us the link to feature on our blog!
What is a “Paint It Purple” cupcake?
“Paint It Purple” cupcakes all have The Pixel Project’s purple and white ribbon on top as part of the cupcake’s decoration. This purple and white ribbon signifies men and women working together to end violence against women.
All decorative icing, marzipan etc should also follow the purple and white colour scheme.
Otherwise, the sky is the limit with how you want to decorate and flavour it!

So how do I sign up?
It’s simple:
Step 2: Email the completed form to the “Paint It Purple” campaign team atPaintItPurple2010@gmail.com
Step 3: We will get you registered and send you the “Paint It Purple” Bloggers’ Toolkit as soon as possible.

Monday, September 20, 2010

FSU-BYU Game Recap

Chris and I are FSU football season-ticket holders, and since we missed the Samford game, Saturday's game against the BYU Cougars was our first of the year. It was a beautiful day in Tallahassee, sunny and warm, and I thought the humidity had moderated a bit (it was 55% at noon before we left for the game). We headed down to tailgate with some friends and still the day was quite pleasant. We were in the shade and there was a nice breeze. Even walking over the stadium the weather seemed reasonable.

Not so much inside the Doak... we roasted! But it was worth it, as the Seminoles came back from their loss at Oklahoma and showed some real spirit on the field. The final score was 34-10. We were especially impressed with #23, tailback Chris Thompson, who had 123 yards rushing and a touchdown. Running back #33 Ty Jones looked good too, and quarterback Christian Ponder, while still a little hesitant on the field, certainly got the job done. It was nice to see back up quarterback E.J. Manuel come in to play the final series too.
Chris Thompson
Ty Jones
E.J. Manuel
Love this photo because you can see the sun shining down on us.
BYU fans. At first it seemed like only men had come to Tallahassee, but it turned out the women and kids were out of the sun - we went into the concourse and saw lots of them. We talked to several of the BYU fans; they were all really nice.
Fun times for hubs and me!
Next home game is Saturday the 25th. Kickoff at 3:30pm. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Video: More Time



(via Morganster)

Welcome to New Director at Cleveland Museum of Natural History

There's so much going on in University Circle lately so please indulge me as I share another video from Cool Cleveland. Welcome to Case Western Reserve University alumna Evalyn Gates, the new Executive Director of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History!



I'm adding her book Einstein's Telescope to my to-read list!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

RIP Whoopi, the Best Dog Ever

It was a very sad day last Saturday when Mom had to say goodbye to her dog Whoopi, after 13 years and 10 months of love and companionship. Whoop's gotten Mom through a lot of tough times, but she hasn't been in the best health for the last year. I took these photos of her during our visit in August. You can see how gray she had gotten. She'd also developed diabetes, and Mom was giving her insulin twice a day.


I will remember Whoopi especially for how sweet she has always been to T. When he was small and deathly afraid of her, she knew automatically to go to another room and give him his space. She really helped him warm up to her over the years, to the point where for the past several years the two of them were best buds. He was in charge of her meals when we visited and Mom had to hide the treats this summer because T was sneaking her extras. You can see her here sitting at his feet, probably watching him play wii.  



I'm sure when we visit in November we'll wander around the house looking for her because our heads know she is gone but she'll always be in our hearts.  

Friday, September 17, 2010

Kitchen Project Update - Ceiling


At long last the ceiling in the kitchen is complete! Here are some before - after sets of the last step - the painting that happened Thursday.

Above the baking area, before.
Above the baking area, after (the paint's not quite dry!)
Above the kitchen table, before.
Above the kitchen table, after.
Above the sink, before.
Above the sink, after.
Tuesday the electricians come to do all the finish work, including installing the light fixture and the microwave. Then we'll have some much more interesting pictures to share! Look for them Wednesday morning!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Music Suggestion: Come Fall Fast

Another song from Morganster and her song a day project. Get out your cowboy hats, I've gone country!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Buddy Walk 2010 Recap

We had fun Saturday morning at the Buddy Walk, even though it was much hotter than we expected it to be. T and Abby successfully "dunked the doctor" at the dunking booth; Abby knocked him in with her first pitch! The route for the walk took us around the lake at Southwood this year, instead of through the neighborhood, which was great, and nicely shaded.

Abby trying again to dunk the doctor.

T retrieving his ball for another pitch.

The FAMU Drum Line performed at the start of the Opening Ceremony - very impressive!

Our friend Becca (who used to work for Chris) led us in stretching and warming up before the Walk. Becca's an instructor at Good Friends Group Fitness.

I was a little bit ahead of Chris and T and stopped to get a picture of them and how big the crowd was. Really a great turnout for the event!

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