Happy Anniversary (to me)

Apparently today is my three-year blog anniversary. I know this because it popped up in my trusty Google calendar.

What I also know is that I suck at being a blogger lately!  I’ve been busy…with life…things like:

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Buying new OPI colors: Fly (Nicki Minage collection) and Thanks A Windmillion

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Trying to squeeze my big feet into awesome 80s inspired shoes.

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Coveting new Le Creuset colors Indigo & Marsailles.

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Baking almost everything in the March Bon Appetit issue.

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Trying Sonic's new sweet potato tots - yum!

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Playing Scrabble...not really.

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Making mac n' cheese awesomeness.

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Celebrating turning 35 at POSH in Scottsdale, AZ.

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Rocking Thanksgiving w/ my first homeade rolls!

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Celebrating my fantastic city at the Calatrava Bridge opening.

See, I’ve been up to stuff…just haven’t been good at telling you all. Me sorries.

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Simple Comforts: 50 Heartwarming Recipes

Just wanted to share a great little cookbook with y’all, Simple Comforts: 50 Heartwarming Recipes, which is published by Sur La Table.  Now, now, I really have no bias since I work part-time at SLT, I truly LOVE most all cookbooks.  But I gotta’ tell ya’, this lil’ cookbook packs a powerful punch!  I’d been staring at in on our shelves for about a year, but I really had a hankerin’ for tomato soup as Fall was drawing near, so I picked it up one day and gave it a once over.

Okay, seriously, chicken pot pie, macaroni and cheese, oatmeal cookies, fried chicken, pork roast, burgers, leg of lamb, beef stew, chili, chicken noodle soup, buttermilk biscuits, banana bread, coffee cake, cinnamon rolls, sweet potatoes, apple pie, beef stroganoff…the list just goes on, and on with the great everyday, comforting recipes in this book.  I had to have it.  And get this…of all the cookbooks I own, and buy on a regular basis, I’ve already made THREE recipes out of this teeny book.  Really?  Really.

And guess what?  They’ve all been amazing thus far!  PB cookies, roasted potato wedges, and most recently, oven-braised short ribs with fennel.  Shut up – to die for!  Seriously, make it, it’s a food of love…I’ve linked the recipe and everything for criminy’s sake.  Get on it!

Christmas Canning

Not to be confused with Christmas Canon – which happens to be one of my fave songs of the season.  Seriously, check it out and download, ‘cuz it’s about that time folks.

October is here, it’s started, it’s goin’, and if you aren’t planning for Christmas already, then you’re just foolin’ yourself.  Yes, I know I begin my planning in late June at the 6-month mark, but now we’re already past the 3-month mark, so it’s not just me being ‘crazy Christmas lady’.  I’m trying to help you out here.

When bing cherries were in season over the summer, I canned 'Christmas Cherries' in a syrup of sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and all spice. They'll go great with turkey or ham!

About four years ago I started canning salsa’s, jams, and preserves to give away as Christmas gifts.  What started as a way to save money and help streamline the way I gift, (I have about 25 baskets to make each year), turned into a tradition and something that was expected by past recipients.  I was shocked, they really enjoyed what I’d made them, so much so, they wanted to make sure I was going to repeat myself the next year!  “What are you canning this summer for Christmas, what can we expect?  Oh, I can’t wait to see what I get this year!”  And so, canning it is, and canning it will always be.  And I love it.  I generally pair a few jars of different things I’ve canned with a treat I make each year.  One year it was sugar cookies with peppermint glaze, another homemade Chex mix, and most recently I gave sea salt caramels last year – my first foray into candy making.  This year I’m still mulling over ideas, hmmm, peppermint French macarons, maybe?

But one thing I’ve decided on for sure is my packaging!  You have got to love Uline.com!  Why I never thought about them before, I dunno’.  This year I’ll be ordering their craft gable boxes and red/green crinkle paper. And I’ve bought some cute eyelet hang tags at Paper Source and Christmas stamps to use for red glitter and gloss embossing!  I also found the cutest fabric swatches at City Craft to adorn the tops of my canning jars.

The patterns are very Anthropologie, but still holding to Christmassy colors - some even have peppermint swirl candy patterns!

Oooh, project, funsies!  More than likely I’ve bitten off more than I can chew…but it wouldn’t be the holidays if I didn’t do that to myself each year.  To be honest, I thrive off the activity and stress of it all!

Texas State Fair

And on this, my 301′st post, I will celebrate the TX State Fair – and my 2 blue ribbons I won this year.  Yippee.

And here I am with my Strawberry-Mint preserves on my right, and the Tomato Preserves to my left.

Could I be anymore of a dork?  Probably not.

I headed to the fair this past weekend with Ben & David, which happened to be the first Sat. of the fair, only day two its been open.  And I gotta’ say, this might be our fave new time to go to the fair, the crowds were very doable, and we hardly had to wait in line for anything – except the fried butter.  Still a fair favorite after 2 years, we finally tried it.  And yes, it truly is good, even if you are eating a big ball of gooey, melted butter!

Also on our menu of culinary partaking: Fletchers corny dog (of course), $1 hot dog – a new place we found tucked away by the Old Mill Inn, roasted corn – from the ONLY place to get it from, the green/yellow apron folks on the Midway, by the merry-go-round, homemade root beer, homemade lemonade, caramel apples with nuts, fried loaded mashed potatoes – a favorite, and alas, the 1st place winner this year, fried bubble gum.

The Fried Bubble Gum got mixed reviews from us. It's really just a marshmallow that is bubble gum flavored that's been fried. Meh.

And the surprise of the evening, all-you-can-drink Ocean Spray juice samples and free Sensodyne toothpaste!  (Hey, that stuff is expensive, and I happen to be an avid user)!  If you’re over by the Food & Fiber and Creative Arts pavilions, keep walking past those areas, and just before the road curves to go back towards the Midway, you’ll find the vendor sampling areas.  OMG, the new Ocean Spray Cranberry Lime juice is SO GOOD!  All you need is a little vodka and maybe a splash of soda, and you’re good to go!  It’s definitely on my grocery list.

And we also checked out the car show, sat in some nice rides and kicked some tires.  Something I never thought I’d consider as my next vehicle purchase: a Ford.  But hey, that Ford Edge is sexy!  And Ford has really stepped it up with technology integration…USB ports and audio jacks everywhere, fantastic!  They’ve also got a new C-MAX hybrid crossover coming out next summer that will get 47 miles to the gallon in the city, and 97 if you go for the Energi version that plugs in!  Annual fuel costs of around $1,000 – uh, yes please!  :)

Hello World!

Haha, remember that, “Hello World”?  For anyone that took computer programming in high school (talkin’ 80s here), it was the first thing you learned to program that would pop up on the screen.  Or, if you’re, say, a 34 year old that graduated with a computer science degree and spent nerdy time being a software engineer, then you’ve seen it more than you care to note.  And you’ve probably left that all behind anyway, and transformed your life into something much more interesting and socially savvy…like, getting a 2nd degree in graphic design, and becoming all designery and hip, and starting your own food blog, and taking an interest in mid century modern design, and being published to talk about food and design…and yeah, stuff like that.  Wha?  No?  Damn.

From nerdy-land it roughly translates to, “I have arrived, I am here on this planet, this is my mark!”  So it’s poignant I use it today as my intro, because it feels like I’ve been gone for forever, doesn’t it?  Feels that way to me.  Me = bad blogger.  But, but, but, I have a good excuse!  But wait, really, I do…well, sorta’, okay, not really.

Lesse’, what have I been doing to keep myself so busy I couldn’t take time out of my day to give forth to my loyal followers (deep, heartfelt thanks to all 5 of you…especially the phone calls harassing me to post, no, seriously)?  Well, my life kinda’ imploded a few months ago…3 months today, actually.  After working (read: over-working and suffering thru 3 years without a raise, prior to which I’d just bought my first house!), at a job for 8.5 years, I was unceremoniously called into a boardroom and told my services were no longer needed, my position had been eliminated.  Yeah, fun, right?

So my almost 9 years fit into 2 quaint shipping boxes…crazy, right?

And so those came home with me and promptly went into my spare bedroom closet, and then I began to bake, and bake, and can jams, and bake, and cook.  And then I started driving all over town and thrusting these baked and canned goodies upon people: friends, chef-friends, Sicilian master bakers (Hi Mary), neighbors.  It felt good just to give…to give something that was a part of me to people who would respect it and embrace me, and be grateful to just be thought of.  This lasted about 2 weeks and then I saw this quote on a friend’s FB page: “We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” ~E. M. Forster

I realized at that moment just how relieved I was, and just how unhappy I’d become because of certain people and circumstances I was surrounded with each day, and why I had ever let it into my life was beyond me.  And why I had never done anything to correct it sooner.  I should have been making the best choices for me, and not hoping in the end people would do the right thing or fulfill promises made.  Baking I know, cooking I trust, putting love into something you turn around and give to people for nourishment…that is a no brainer.

And so I taped that quote to my fridge, and promised myself I would try to let things in, and not be so type-A controlling about every aspect of my life.  And oddly enough, I didn’t have this sense of constant worry, something was calming me.  To me my life was chaos, or rather, should have been chaos.  “OMG, no job, what’s a gal to do, everything is gonna’ go in the sh!tter.”  And then things started to happen.  People were reaching out in their own ways, which I tried to reject at first, I didn’t want pity.  But as my friend Ben reminded me, I must let people do things for me sometimes…it’s what people do when someone is in need.

It started with daily calls of people wanting to take me to lunch.  Then I got invited to a fun July 4th party.  Someone baked me a cherry pie (Hi Diane)!  My Dad paid the last 4 payments of my car note (awesomest Dad, ever).  I started getting up at 7am to walk The Katy Trail on mornings.  I picked up extra shifts at my part-time job, and met 4 new customers who were canning enthusiasts.  Got published with my 7th write-up for Modern Dallas on Il Cane Rosso.  Started interning at a PR office in trade for learning this new industry and a workspace to call my own (Starbucks got old).  Met new Dallas food bloggers via Twitter and a fundraiser I worked at Dallas Farmers Market.  Got invited to go on a road trip with 2 of my best boys to Albuquerque (Hi Ben and David).  Went to a fancy dinner put on by Matt McCallister and my dear friend Brandi’s boyfriend picked up the tab (Hi Jimmy). Won 2 blue ribbons at the TX State Fair for tomato preserves and strawberry-mint preserves.  Was given an all expenses paid ticket for a girls trip to Palm Desert to hang out with my best friend since 2nd grade, (I think I fainted on this one), and found out my other 2 best boys, (Hi Mark and David), will be there at the same time!  Worked a fancy VIP party for my catering friend and got to work in the trenches alongside her (Hi Ann).  Won an Artizone gift card online for $25 worth of gourmet eats – I never win anything!  Got invited to a restaurant opening.  Got asked to be on the Chefs for Farmers committee.

I mean, it’s insane!  The universe was definitely trying to tell me something, and I’ve felt the slightest push forward on my shoulder this entire time.  And do you see the pattern?  Food, foodies, food world, etc., etc.  So, it’s only fitting I’ve been in talks with a possible employer who’s clientele is all restaurants, food distributors, and chefs.  And, as you can imagine, I’m chomping at the bit for this opportunity.  But I must be patient, and not push it.  I have to just let the cards fall where they may…but could I just this once be a magician and make it happen already!?  lol

So I give a shout-out to all who have lent a helping hand, even the smallest gestures, you have no idea.  All of them together has made this massive snowball of love and support, and I’ve been blown away.  Pinching myself regularly it’s so crazy, and so I let it ride, riding it out to see what happens next.

And this is just some of where I’ve been in the last 3 months, of which blog posts are to come – promise:

Greens!

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With lettuce & veggies fresh from my CSA this morning, & a bag of Tom Spicers (F.M. 1410 next to Jimmy’s)  micro arugula, this salad is ON tonight!  Bought an Italian loaf at Jimmy’s, & I’m whipping up a red wine/ garlic vinaigrette to go with – yum!

Dear 80s,

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Are you there 1980s, it’s me, Kerrie.  And I’ve missed you terribly. What, with your simpler times, yet your not so simple fashion trends (hello, Gucci jean cuff rolls or Mix-Its anyone)?

Your forgiveness of Aqua Net abuse, and your St. Elmos Fire instrumental theme…ahh, good ole’ 7 Minutes in Heaven at your friend’s party!

Today I miss you so terribly because I saw this phone in a thrift store.  This black laquer, touch-tone phone from Radio Shack, originally available in either pink or blue neon.

I coveted this phone for an entire year, begged for it for Christmas, and it beckoned me those many months with its frosty glow from beyond the storefront window.

Then, on that wintry Oklahoma morning, it happened.  My parents left a small-ish box tucked away behind the tree, passing it off as a relative’s gift.  Everything had been opened, and while I appreciated my haul, there was the slight tinge of something longed for that wasn’t in my pile.

While I must have enjoyed all of my gifts that year, I couldn’t even tell you what else I got, because once my Dad said, “Oh, wait! What have we got here?”, and reached for that box, something inside of me believed.  I just knew it had to be my phone, in the blue neon color I had requested.

It was socks.

No, nooo, it was my phone! Of course it was my phone! And, AND, the kicker? I got MY OWN phone line to go with it!  That was a big deal back then, as it was relatively new technology: 2 different phone lines in one house? Madness!  I thought I was the S.H.!.T. 

And ya’ know, I was, for that moment in time…that’s what was so great about the 80s.  Sadly, now, I can’t even remember what happened to that phone, maybe a garage sale sacrifice at some point? Gasp! The shock, the horror, I know!  Believe you me, if I had a LAN line in my house today, this baby would have come home with me, no doubt!

I will always love you dear 80s.

Stay cool, have a great summer, and LYLAS,
Kerrie + 80s = BFF

Santa Cruz organic lemonade

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OMG, Whole Foods have these on sale this week, 5/$5!  Cherry, peach, & regular. My guess is that cherry number is gonna’ taste so good w/ some vodka stirred into it while grillin’ by the pool tomorrow!  They also had whole, sweet corn, 8/$2!  Grill it, add a lil’ butter, mayo, parm, chipotle, & lime zest, & we’re in business!

Happy Memorial Day weekend!

Do you ‘heart’ beets?

I’m growing to love them…especially roasted.

Heart-beet. :)

Got any great recipes for beets?  If so, share w/ me!

Roasted Ricotta Roma’s

Ree Drummond, you know, the Pioneer Woman?  Of course you do…hell, if you’ve been following this blog at all, you should!  She’s got a lot of buddies and guest bloggers on her site, and one of them happens to be tattooed hottie, Pastor Ryan, and I made his ricotta roasted tomatoes!  And I was ballsy enough to take them to a cook-out with 4 local chefs and foodies galore! And guess what?  Everyone liked them!

 

First fill them w/ the ricotta mixture, then press them into the bread crumbs.

This recipe is easy to make, and is ideal to keep handy this time of year, as we’re on the verge of tomato season.  And if you made your own bread crumbs from my previous post, this recipe calls for the splurge!

 

Then bake them off until golden and bubbly...mmm!